Brett Salako Photography ~ Review

On 3rd April we hired Brett to take some photographs at our daughter’s sixth birthday party. During my time blogging I’ve met some great photographers and all of them offer a different and individual vision. We hadn’t used Brett before. We’d never hired a professional to photograph a kid’s party before either. It’s safe to say though, we were more than a little thrilled with the final pics.

Those of you that have been reading my blogs for a while will know, I don’t often review products or services. But I felt it important to write a full review of Brett’s services and tell you why I think you should hire him for your next event.

  • Brett arrived early, managing to capture some fantastic, intimate, family photos before the carnage of 30 six year olds ensued.
  • Brett’s presence was non invasive. You can imagine lots of kids don’t want to be lined up for a hundred photographs when they could be partying, and Brett made sure that wasn’t necessary, whilst still managing to capture some perfect shots.
  • He has a very arty flair when it comes to captures, and he managed to make the otherwise plain background of the hall fit perfectly into each photograph.
  • He listened to what we asked for and delivered.
  • His efficacy of getting the finished edit to us was stellar.
Banksy style capture

Brett is Wiltshire based but also covers surrounding areas, he is available for family shoots, weddings, landscapes and a variety of other photography services.

Brett’s instagram showcases his versatility.

What I really liked about having Brett at our daughter’s party, was his patience. When you’re surrounded by children moving at speeds, for hours, it can be hard to capture the perfect shot, but that wasn’t an issue for Brett. He was dedicated to the cause and managed to capture our daughter, and us as a family, beautifully.

Action Shot
Family

So why would you hire Salako Photography for your event? Well, if you’re after a patient, punctual and interested photographer, who listens to your ideas and is speedy with his edits. I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to hire Brett. His prices are competitive, he really cares about your vision and will work with you to achieve it whilst adding his own artistic flair. We now have a whole album of our daughter’s special day that we’ll be able to cherish forever. Her first birthday as a big sister, and her first surrounded by friends post covid-19.

I highly recommend Brett, he’s not just a great photographer, but a genuine and friendly guy, too!

Mothership Writers Workshop Review

I first heard about Mothership Writers when my daughter was around three years old. I’d been writing my blog for some time and was looking for inspiration as well as guidance in the form of a writing workshop. Mothership (unfortunately for me back then) caters to new mums with babies two and under, so I had initially missed the boat. However, I kept in touch with Emylia Hall, founder and novelist via Instagram and when I found out I was pregnant with my second baby I immediately sent her an email asking to be on the list for updates on the next available course. I joined Mothership Writers when my son was ten weeks old and I’ve just recently completed the eighth and final workshop.

What is Mothership Writers?

Essentially, it’s a creative writing course that walks the attendee through various writing styles, but in reality it’s so much more than that. Mothership caters to women in the early stages of motherhood creating a sense of solidarity and openness you can’t find in your standard baby group, or indeed creative writing course.

Emylia’s teaching style is encouraging and heartfelt, she creates a safe space for mums to pour over their experiences with words, evoking powerful emotions and allowing the attendee to experience a full and wholesome sense of catharsis. The course is made up of eight hour long sessions and a whole host of information you can’t get from simply Googling ‘how to be a good writer’…. Emylia instils a sense of pride and ownership in us mums during each workshop and it’s obvious from the very first session she’s fully invested in our individual stories and writing success.

During lockdown 2020 Emylia curated the book Born In Lockdown a fantastic collaboration of fragments from over 250 authors, all of which are women who experienced pregnancy or became new mothers during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The book is free to download with donations accepted for SANDS the leading stillborn and neonatal death charity.

All graphics and illustrations by Esther Curtis

Course layout

The hour long weekly workshops take place over zoom and are always initiated with a head emptying exercise AKA brain dump. An exercise which I have found so useful that I’ve continued to do it outside of the workshops. The session is then broken down into writing exercises and group discussion, always starting and ending with an influential poem. Some of the best poems I’ve ever heard have been introduced to me during a Mothership session!

Though the course is designed for mothers, writing craft is very much in focus during the workshops and Emylia delves into writing styles, including character creation and story structure. The hour always flew by, but I always came away feeling like I’d got loads of writing done and the sense of achievement coupled with inspiration after a session is great soul food.

The really great thing, (or rather one of them) about Mothership Writers is, you don’t need to have ever written before to benefit from the course. It’s designed for all writing abilities and I feel that anyone, with or without writing experience will benefit from the course and Emylia’s kindness and knowledge.

The level of insight Emylia gives regarding the various ways in which there are to write both creatively and expressively, is a true testament to her own writing success.

Emylia Hall, founder of Mothership Writers and Author of The Richard & Judy Bestseller, The Book Of Summers.

My Personal Experience

After being admitted to hospital at the end of my second pregnancy because of a rapid and terrifying decline in my mental well-being, I had zero desire to write. I’m a person that usually writes in order to ‘hear myself think’ and writing has many a time been a form of therapy for me, during pregnancy I often documented my honest, but not always positive, experiences. Once my son was born though, the intrusive thoughts I was experiencing felt too raw and too heinous to get on the page and I just didn’t have it in me to write, about anything. Mothership Writers gave me both inspiration and clarity over my thoughts. Listening to other mums express in their own words their personal experiences helped me to open up, it also gave me inspiration to write about the positives. It helped me articulate and put into words the tiny nuggets of joy that occur daily in motherhood. The joys that are so often overshadowed by our darkest times in the early stages of parenting. I am so humbled and grateful I was able to attend a Mothership Writers course during my recovery from perinatal mental illness, because I genuinely believe the course itself to have been a powerful recovery aid for me. I loved it so much, I’m deeply sad that it’s over, but I know I’ll stay in touch with Emylia and the Mothership crew via social media.

VerdictCannot recommend the course enough, for all mothers keen to explore their creativity through writing!

Image of my dog Frank and Son Kaiser during a Mothership session!
  • For more information on Emylia and her latest writing projects follow her author page Emylia Hall IG

Royce Lingerie – Non wired sports bra review.

Black and hot pink piping is a vibe

Hello Divas. This is my second collaboration with Royce Lingerie and I’m yet to find fault with them. I don’t do dishonest reviews, even when I’m gifted a product I honour it on the proviso that my findings are genuine. So here goes. Now, sporty probably isn’t a word you’d automatically conjure up when thinking of me, so what is it about this sports bra I found so great?

Firstly, it’s cotton, secondly it’s non wired and thirdly its support ability despite being without wire is fantastic. There will be some skepticism around this I’m sure, especially for bigger busted ladies like myself but I can assure you this bra has been tried and tested by me. Because it’s cotton it’s recommended for low impact sports and that was the aim for me when trialling. I’m gradually adding exercise back into my health routine after being very sporadic in my approach previously.

The first test for me was taking it for a hike. I have a new walking buddy in the form of a french bulldog and he’s been spurring me on come rain or shine to get out walking. This week we walked for over an hour completing my target of 10,000 steps uphills and down steps and back whilst wearing Royce’s sports bra and I’ll be honest it felt weightless. That in itself is something that never happens to me. Usually when walking I get frustrated and uncomfortable if my boobs are bobbing around all over the place and occasionally slapping me on the chin. So you can gather that I’m very pleased to report neither was a factor.

Us at the top of Troopers Hill Bristol

The second test was when I tried Pilates. Now I know neither of these are considered high impact on the standard fitness scale, but when you have large boobs everything is considered high impact. I can honestly recommend it as both a weightless and comfortable sports bra that also looks great. Going back to the fact it’s cotton it absorbs sweat better than some of those awkward looking, shiny nylon sports bras that can leave you feeling like you’re boobs have been sweating inside a shell suit.

It’s classic black design with the hot pink piping really is gorgeous and as with all of their bras it’s understated without being ugly. It still looks great and I’ve even worn it as a tshirt bra just for the fact that it’s comfy and gives your breasts an uplifted and sculpted shape under clothes without the Mrs Doubtfire separation so oftenly seen with sports bras. In my honest opinion it’s a perfect design to base the future of gymwear around, so that us larger chested ladies can feel confident knowing we can get great support whilst still looking on trend. Available upto size K shop here Impact Free.

You can also view this article on http://www.house21.co.uk

DM To Collab…..

Ok so here’s the thing. You’ve recently started growing your social media following and brands are approaching you with exclusive discounts. You think wow someone wants to work with me and bite their hand off for a freebie. Maybe it’s an umbrella from Amazon that someone is asking you to write a review for. Maybe they want to send you an exclusive discount code for recruiting brand ambassadors, or maybe they’re trying to sell you weight loss products because youd be perfect to represent their brand.

You don’t consider your self an influencer so you feel like you’re lucky to have any kind of opportunity for a freebie and you snap each one up eagerly. Next thing you know you have to write a caption bigging up an umbrella in the middle of a heatwave or promote weight loss shakes that taste like sick and give you a headache for a week.

The moral to this story is – Don’t fake it. If you don’t believe in something don’t try and sell it for a freebie. Because in doing so, you’re committing to work for free for a product you don’t even believe in yourself. The reason I’m writing about this now is because I was that girl who tried and failed to promote an umbrella. I hate umbrellas, they’re awkward, they get in the way and almost always break upon second use. Instead of saying that though, I tried to write a catchy caption about why this plain and badly made umbrella was the highlight of my week. I had a better experience when I stole one from the brolly bin on exiting a Cardiff restaurant during an April downpour.

Also noteworthy, if someone is commenting on your picture dm us to collab I can 99% guarantee that they are doing the exact same on another 1000 posts each week. Maybe even several times a week, thus meaning their collab offer is likely to be no more than an invite to apply. Or maybe it’s a discount code and an expectation on you to produce content for them, for FREE.

After learning the hard way that most people’s ideas of collaborations are in fact expectations, I now strictly only work with brands that work for me! Meaning I only promote products I am interested in, or that represent what I’m about. For example I recently collaborated with Royce Lingerie to promote their blossom bra, a non wired bra available in my mega size of a H cup.

Likewise I’ve promoted menstrual cups and self care products that promote wellbeing for women’s health. Being a chronic illness and mental health blogger as well as a mum means there are not always opportunities in abundance for product reviews or PR posts.

However, even if there were, I will never promote products that make false promises such as shakes that claim to contain all the nutrients you’ll ever need to sustain a healthy lifestyle, or pills and supplements that claim to fix health problems.

Be a grey goose in a pond full of swans

Suffering from chronic illness makes you a less than desirable candidate for some brands, as do my personal and often very sweary captions. I recently got offered a collaboration with a well know sanitary production company. I sent them all my insights and they asked me to be part of their latest campaign. I agreed, but upon them viewing my grid I was not deemed appropriate because of some of the language I use. Eg – I say Fuck, a lot! But that’s fine, because I don’t work for these brands. I created a blog as an outlet and a space to share my experiences, if I get offered payment or freebies of products that I’m interested in, I consider it a bonus. I’m not prepared sacrifice my integrity for a tub of Slimfast or some free tampons. If your purpose in life is to be an influencer then this blog might go against the grain. You may be thinking any work is work and that’s absolutely your choice. I don’t look down on people who have #Ads all over their grids, it’s just not for me. I don’t DM to collaborate with brands because I believe if they really wanted to work with me they would in fact be reaching out to me to offer me a collaboration opportunity.

I’m not suggesting you never do the reaching, I think it’s great to network and let people know you’re interested in their products but what I am saying is these secondary accounts commenting on your photos are not likely to make you the next big thing. And remember huns, that being famous on Instagram is the equivalent to being rich in monopoly….. #justsaying

Example caption from one of my recent grid posts

Recommended Reads #3

I promised to keep them coming.

What have I been reading the last couple of months? LOADS! I’ve been reading loads as usual. On average I get through a book in three nights.

I’ve now read all of C.L Taylor’s books and am patiently awaiting her 7th release. My favourites are definitely ‘The Missing’ ‘The Escape’ and ‘The Accident’ I liked ‘Sleep’ as I really related to the characters particularly Anna, but I found Christine’s role a bit far fetched and that kind of ruined it for me a bit. ‘The Accident’ is my most recent favourite and I could relate to Sue as both, a girl in a relationship with a narcissist and a mother, it definitely kept me guessing and I understood her battle with mental health also.

Some other good reads are ‘Watching You’ by Lisa Jewell, set in my home town of Bristol. A good twisty thriller written in a traditional English style, which you don’t come across often anymore and so it makes pleasant reading. Lisa is a powerful story teller and her thrillers always have a great protagonist.

Another of my new favourite Authors is ‘Mark North’ his first book ‘Hold My Hand’ is set between Bath and Oxford and that was what drew me in, having been born and bred in Bath I like books I can relate to in terms of geographical memory. I like to read about streets I’ve walked, I find it helps me connect. His second book ‘Keep Her Close’ is all Oxford based but equally as good. His Protagonist Josie Myers is a good strong female lead and I’m intrigued to see where her story goes in the next instalment. I do find a lot of Crime Thrillers & Cop Saga’s do tend to be samey but if it’s a genre you enjoy I would recommend this writer.

Another author who’s work I admire and I’m currently reading a book of his is Mark Edwards. Im almost at the end of ‘Follow You Home’ I love the way Mark manages to convince you of some supernatural activity before dropping the obvious explanation, making you question your own sanity for a moment or two. He did a similar thing with ‘In Her Shadow’ and I really enjoyed reading that too. Follow you home is dark and gripping making you look at the world at its worst but in an addictive and compelling way that will keep the pages turning until the very last.