A tale of two coffees……aka dreams will always stay dreams unless you act on them.

We always joke that everything at Studio G revolves around coffee, but actually that's not too far from the truth. Let me tell you a tale of two coffees.

The first was two years ago today. I (Lisa) was an average portrait photographer with a dream of opening my own photography studio. I could think of a million reasons excuses why it wouldn't work, but for some reason my husband and family all seemed to believe I could pull it off. In search of 'common sense' I met for coffee with my most grounded and sensible friend, Robert. But instead of telling me I was being ridiculous, he offered to become my business partner. Clearly he saw something in me that I didn't, the same something that my family must have seen.

That story, and what happened next, are well documented - we ended up jointly running Studio G Photography. We didn't exactly all live happily ever after - establishing a business has been far more difficult and time-consuming than either of us anticipated. But if we knew then what we know now, would we still have done it? I can only speak for myself, but my answer would be a resounding HELL YES!

Fast forward two years and we have been back to the scene of that fateful coffee meeting this morning for a small celebration and a catch-up. This morning the talk has mainly been about a massively ambitious project which, if we pull it off, will fulfil another of my lifelong dreams. And you know what? I think we'll do it. If you believe in yourself you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Anything. Last week I walked across hot coals because I told myself I could.

The thing about dreams is, the more you fulfil, the more you get. But unless you take action your dreams will never become reality. 

When I opened the studio I didn't consider where it might take me. But almost two years on, my photography has improved by leaps and bounds. I am mentored by Olympus' Principal Photographer, Damian McGillicuddy, I am on the brink of starting two very big projects that two years ago I would never have thought possible, and the studio is building partnerships with several local charities, allowing us to give something back to the community.

So the moral of this story is dream big or dream small, that's up to you, but take some action towards making those dreams come true. Take a step, or take a huge leap of faith like I did, but do something because no matter how hard the road is, it will all be worth it.

Oh, and if you fancy donating a little something to Tameside, Oldham and Glossop MIND, in recognition of my fire-walking heroics, here's the link to my Just Giving page. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/StudioG

Thanks for reading,

Lisa x

It’s time to talk…about mental health, art and photograpy

Today is Time To Talk Day, when we’re all encouraged to find time to talk about mental health, and to keep the conversation going. At Studio G we take the issue of mental health very seriously. From personal experience, and that of many of our friends, we understand the impact that mental illness can have and how isolated and stigmatized those one in four of the population can feel. We believe that photography can play a part in helping those affected by mental illness to find a way of speaking openly about it, and gaining and improving self-confidence. We also want to do something to help organisations that campaign for openness about mental illness and offer support to those who need it. We have already done some work for SANE, a national organisation that campaigns for openness, and we are delighted that recently we have been introduced to Tameside Oldham and Glossop Mind, our local office of the national mental health charity. It’s still early days, but working with their fundraising and marketing team we already have lots of ideas. Our first piece of work was to attend an art exhibition at their offices in Ashton-under-Lyne. Oldham College students had been commissioned to produce a piece of art around the theme of ‘five ways to well-being’. You can read more about that project on the Mind website http://www.togmind.org/news/artistic-arrivals/ but in the meantime, here are our photographs of the art-work on display. On March 2, you’ll find us supporting an evening fire walk organised by Mind at Oldham, Rugby Club. Lisa is planning to do the walk, Robert will be photographing the event, and our wonderful makeup artist Sharon Ball will be face-painting. Why not come along and join in the fun? The details are here http://www.togmind.org/get-involved/fundraising/firenight/ Please find time today to talk about mental health – but make sure you’re listening too.   Robert and Lisa

And so this is Christmas…

Studio G's Christmas card 2016 - a composite image of one of our little fairytography clients.

Studio G's Christmas card 2016 - a composite image of one of our little fairytography clients.

  As 2016 draws to an end, it seems appropriate to look back at the year gone by. As for everyone else, and any other year, there have been some ups and downs, but overall it’s been a blast.   Our favourite highlights for the year include:
  • Photographing the family of a very famous footballer – and not realising who he was until after the shoot
  • Our first commercial photography deal with Housing Units
  • Lisa being shortlisted for Best Start-up Business in the Network She Business Awards
  • Starting a mentoring programme with world-class photographer Damian McGillicuddy, which has been incredibly challenging professionally and personally
  • Working with Around Saddleworth magazine, and helping them to mark their 25th anniversary. Not to mention supplying some of our special brand of magic for the Christmas front cover
  • A photographic trip to Dubrovnik
  • Developing an exciting new brand – Fairytography – and some stunning pictures enhanced by Fairy Magic
  • Small Business Saturday – being selected as one of only 100 small businesses nationwide to feature in this annual campaign – including a trip to 10 Downing Street!
  Of course our real highlight has been the wide range of fantastic people we’ve met and worked with throughout the year. From newborn babies, to wedding couples, professional models, family reunions, new business launches, clubs teams and classes – you’ve been a delight to get to know and to photograph. If we haven't photographed you yet, let's rectify that. Drop us a message and let's talk about how we can help you show the world the very best version of you.   Looking forward to 2017, we have lots of ideas for new products and creative ideas, but that can wait. For now, we would both like to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas, and the very best New Year.     Lisa and Robert

Celebrating World Mental Health Day

Me!

Me!

It's late in the day, but I couldn't let World Mental Health Day pass without a blog. For me, and millions of others, every day is Mental Health Day - we live with it our whole lives. But while today everyone is talking about tackling stigma, I would like to go one further. I would like to stand up and applaud everyone who is living with this bizarre, fascinating and diverse collection of symptoms.

Sharon

Sharon

Some of the very best people I know live with depression and anxiety. They don't just survive, they are warriors. I try my best to celebrate my condition. I've had it almost all of my adult life and, although some times have been nothing sort of horrendous, overall I would not change it, especially when, with the help of medication, I keep the black dog under control.

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Natale

My depression does not define me, but it does make me a more sensitive, caring and perceptive person. I am a better person for my struggles. But what's more, I see around me a selection of strong, empowered women who have fought their own battles and, on the whole, are winning. Several friends, like me, have found their lives crumbling around them, but instead of giving up, have built whole new lives and are now building their own businesses. A daunting prospect for many, but when you've stared the black dog in the face and punched him on the nose then pretty much anything is possible.

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Susan

I am massively fortunate to have a business that I love, that affords me the honour of photographing some of those amazing women who inspire me. Their stories are their own to tell (or not), but I am humbled that they agreed, without hesitation, to having their portraits included in this blog.

Sarah

Sarah

Sharon, Natale, Susan and Sarah, I salute you. You inspire me and I am proud to call you friends.

How to be a real princess

Today is World Mental Health Day: day when were encouraged to think – and more importantly talk – about mental health. Here at Studio G we are very aware that one significant factor in mental health, particular for girls and women, is poor self image.

Everywhere they see images of slim models with flawless skin (frequently air-brushed, of course), and hear constant reinforcement that the way for them to be successful in life is to look good, by which is meant look like the (male dominated) media say you should look. Remember the old song? Stay young and beautiful, if you want to be loved. It might sound old-fashioned now, but todays messages are no different. And it starts early.

Take, for example, the Disney Princess. From Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, through Belle, Ariel, Pocahontas to Rapunzel, and most recently Moana, they are all portrayed as beautiful, able bodied and nearly all white. And of course pre-occupied with falling in love with their prince.

So what is a girl or young woman meant to take from that if they are, say, black, not conventionally attractive or have a disability? What if they are questioning their sexuality? So we were very pleased indeed when last week Disney published their ten Principles for a Modern Princess:

Care for others

Live healthily

Dont judge a book by its cover

Be honest

Be a friend you can trust

Believe in yourself

Right wrongs

Try your best

Be loyal

Never give up

The list is more notable for what it doesnt contain. No mention of looks or appearance, orof the importance of finding/keeping your prince. These are principles that we would all do well to live by, and are all within our own control, unlike our genetic inheritance. So next time youre telling the princess in your life how beautiful she is, tell her instead that shes kind, generous, a good friend. That way she'll believe in herself and her own beauty as a person, whatever she sees in the mirror.

Studio G Photography named in Small Business Saturday UK’s ‘Small Biz 100’ for 2016

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Studio G has been named among the 100 small businesses in the UK to be celebrated by Small Business Saturday, the campaign that culminates in the UK’s dedicated day for small businesses on December 3rd.

Studio G Photography was set up in May 2015, building on a small home-based children’s party photography business. Since acquiring its own studio the company has been able to increase its range of services to offer family, team and business portraits, artistic and performance portfolios, commercial and event photography and fine art and fashion photography. It also offers its studio for hire by other local photographers. The company will now be among the select number of businesses to be featured by the Small Business Saturday campaign one per day for the 100 days leading up to Small Business Saturday itself.

“We believe strongly in the power of photography to empower both photographer and subject, and to increase the self belief and self-confidence of ordinary people, all of whom can be made to look extraordinary and at prices they can afford,” explains Principal Photographer Lisa Marie Gee.

Lisa’s business partner, Robert Cragg adds “We strongly believe that if we have fun doing what we do, then so will our clients, and the resulting images will be much more vibrant and exciting.”

Small Business Saturday is already the UK's most successful small business campaign. This is the fourth year of the campaign, which last year saw £623m spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday, an increase of £119m or 24 per cent on the previous year. The campaign trended at number one in the UK on Twitter on the day with more than 100,000 campaign-related tweets being sent. Over 75% of local councils supported the campaign, giving considerable national reach into local communities.

The campaign is a great nationwide promotional and marketing tool for small businesses. It is totally free to participate and any small businesses can get involved - from one-man-bands, through to a high growth office, and from tradesmen to social media gurus. In addition to the big day, the campaign also delivers help and advice alongside opportunities to connect with other small businesses. In short, Small Business Saturday exists to support, inspire and promote small businesses.

The British public has a great affection for small businesses and we continue to see that grow year on year.  Small Business Saturday is an exceptional example of collaboration and co-operation with small businesses teaming up in communities around the UK,” explains Campaign Director Michelle Ovens.

“Although the campaign focuses on one day, the goal is to have a lasting impact on small businesses by changing mind-sets, so that people make it their mission to support small businesses all year round. Most people in this country own a small business, work for a small business or know somebody who does, so supporting a small business on Small Business Saturday is absolutely personal.”

Small Business Saturday, which is a grassroots, not-for-profit campaign, was originally founded by American Express in the U.S. in 2010 and it remains the principal supporter of the campaign in the UK, as part of its on-going commitment to encourage consumers to shop small. The campaign also benefits from the backing of leading business organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses and Enterprise Nation. The campaign is also supported by PRS For Music, TalkTalk Business, Vistaprint, Post Office and Clear Channel

Logos, digital banners, a social media guide and toolkits will be available to download from the website www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com and can be displayed online or on premises. Businesses around the country can also upload information to the ‘My Small Business Finder’ on the website (www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com) on what special events or promotional offers they will be running for Small Business Saturday.

More information on Small Business Saturday can also be found on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page (www.facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturdayuk) and Twitter feed (@SmallBizSatUk).

Here's the video we submitted to the campaign as part of our application.

 

Welcome

Welcome to Fairytography, a magical world of fairies, elves and pixies. Keep your eyes peeled for all out latest news and offers.

Studio G is getting a makeover

After just over a year in business, we’ve treated ourselves to a bit of a makeover!

Our lovely studio has taken some serious wear and tear: the white walls aren’t as white as they might be, thanks to a few fingerprints and scuff marks from our younger guests, our white floor is bearing the marks of heavy traffic, and we felt that our overall colour scheme doesn’t quite reflect the business that we’ve become. A look that is spot on when you’re starting up can quickly fall behind your developing thinking as you try to move the business onward and upward.

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A year ago, our Pamper and Pose brand of makeover photoshoots was the main part of our business. And it’s still at the essence of who we are, giving girls and young women self-confidence, a positive self-image and, of course, a lot of fun. But we now have commercial clients, hire our studio out to other photographers, and we’re increasingly moving into fine art photography. So time for a refresh!

Firstly, we’ve changed our company name to Studio G Ltd. As well as being easier to remember – and say! – than Lisa Marie Gee Photography Ltd, it’s less specific and perhaps a bit less confusing for Robert’s HR clients.

Under than broad headline of Studio G Ltd, you’ll see a number of brands. At the moment there’s Photography by Studio G, Pamper and Pose by Studio G and Fine Art by Studio G, but as other products are developed, that range will expand.

Our logo and branding have changed slightly too. We’re keeping the basic concept designed by Russell Finneran from Stonehouse Creative, but making some changes to the font and colour palette. We’d love to know what you think.

In the studio itself, you’ll see less pink and more emphasis on grey, black and white. In our reception area the sofas have gone, and instead there’s more of a café vibe, with small tables, gingham tablecloths and fold-away chairs.

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And wall-art. Many more examples of our work will be on display throughout our rooms and into our corridor.

We are having a mini re-launch very soon. Keep an eye open for special offers, or just call in for a brew and a chat – we love visitors!

The birthday gift that keeps on giving…

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It's my birthday this weekend. I'm not telling you this because I'm fishing for gifts or attention. In fact I'm planning a very low profile and quiet one. This will be in marked contrast to my last birthday, which I celebrated by deciding to open my own photography studio.

It was a huge decision for me as I'm not one for taking big risks, but perhaps it was hitting the midway point between two birthdays that may have triggered a minor midlife crisis. More likely it was the question posed to me by my now business partner, Robert, and my ever-supportive husband, Carl. Both of them asked me the same thing. What's the worst that could happen? After thinking it over for  a few days I realised that the worst was not losing money, or making a fool of myself. The worst thing would be to pass up the opportunity, look back in 10 years and wonder, what if...?

And so, on March 12th, 2015, I announced to the world that I was about to become the proud boss of Studio G Photography, Oldham,  (although actually, the name came a little later). Twelve months on, we haven't crashed and burned. The studio is doing well and we are slowly but surely building a solid business. The last year, although not without its stresses, has been an absolute blast, and I still pinch myself when I come through the door most mornings.

No two days, or weeks, are the same. This week, for example, has included a newborn twins shoot; some networking; post-processing photographs of a lorry load of chairs; a fantasy fairy shoot; helping a friend with some photography advice; shoot planning with our makeup artist; shopping for photography props; processing wedding photographs and a bit of children's photography practice with my favourite model, my daughter.

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Newborn twins

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Fantasy fairy shoot

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My daughter - Gabi Stardust

I have learned so much since we opened the studio, about business, but also about photography. I grab every opportunity to practice, to push myself and to learn new things. I look at my work from then, compared to my recent work, and I can see how far I've come.
The first photograph I took of Gabrielle in Studio G.

The first photograph I took of Gabrielle in Studio G.

Trinian-1027-Edit I've met some incredible people too, most notably our now resident makeup artist, Sharon Ball (of Black and Blue Makeup), who popped in for coffee on our first open day and has been working with us ever since. She also introduced me to Natale Rea, who mopdels for us regularly and is working with Sharon and I on a major photographic project that we hope to eventually exhibit or publish in a book.
Sharon and Natale on the set of a shoot at Studio G for Matthew Williamson

Sharon and Natale on the set of a shoot at Studio G for Matthew Williamson

I am excited to get started on our second year. The future is looking good. Robert and I are embarking on a mentoring programme with five-time Master Photographer Damian McGillycuddy. On our first session he taught me how to do this... MMOS1--1026-Edit_pp I can't wait to see what I can produce by the end of the year. I won't go all Oscar acceptance and start thanking everyone, but to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today, much love. I hope you'll continue to support me and watch my progress. Peace and love, Lisa x

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself”

The above is one of our favourite quotes from Coco Chanel and seemed an appropriate title for a blog to mark International Women's Day.

International Women’s Day is a good time to reflect on the positive impact that good photography can have on women.

Photography is often unkind and disrespectful to girls and women. From childhood, girls are surrounded by images of unfeasibly beautiful women, airbrushed to within an inch of their lives, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to be attractive to men or to model clothes or make-up. This implies no criticism of those models and ‘celebrities’, who have a job to do and market demand to meet, but it says a lot about the people who commission that work and their perception of women. As they grow to adulthood, young women become more aware of the ubiquitous sexualisation of women in images: it’s not that long ago that no motor show was complete without bikini-clad beauties being draped across the bonnet of the latest sports car, and beautiful women still adorn the Tour de France platform at the end of each day, with no actual purpose other than to look good. This all adds to the feeling of many women – and, worryingly, young girls – that they can’t possibly match up to that ideal.

Add to all of this society’s general obsession with youth, weight, shape and size, and it’s hardly surprising that so many women are fearful when asked to step in front of a camera. We see outwardly confident women flinch – or even run and hide – when cameras are brought out at gatherings, and suggesting to some that they come into our studio for a photoshoot is like proposing that they run barefoot over hot coals!

However, they are missing out on a great opportunity for self-affirmation and confidence building. We don’t promise – or even aspire – to make our portrait subjects look ten years younger, or free of all the changes that living a full life brings to us all. We won’t use Photoshop to change your body shape, or the length of your limbs, or to remove that birthmark on your face. That might make an attractive photograph, but it wouldn’t be a portrait. A portrait should show you, as you are, but the very best version of you that you can be. We achieve that through expertly-applied make-up, carefully arranged lighting, but most importantly by getting you to – well, just be yourself and relax.

The results are stunning, as women see themselves as the beautiful people they truly are. It can be a very emotional experience for them – and for us as photographers. It gives them greater self-confidence and self-belief.

Don’t just take our word for it – here’s what some of our clients said after their portrait sessions:

“I just LOVE what Lisa has done today - not just for the photos but the boost in my confidence that it has given me...” - Lee

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“The makeover made me look and feel like a million dollars, and every time I look at the pictures I feel great all over again” – Susie

Susie before and after

“I love that I have a photograph that I can look back on for all time and say yes, I looked great” – Caz

before and after

In the words of another beautiful and wise woman, Sophia Loren: "Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.”

We’re very proud of what we do for our clients – as we see their confidence grow, so does ours. We are fortunate to have a very rewarding job.

Happy International Women’s Day to you all.

Lisa and Robert