About the author: Jane Burkinshaw is a professional photographer and passionate about all things photography related. Jane specialises in portrait photography and runs photography courses.

Family photo shoots for precious lasting memories

Gosh I really am late posting about this fantastic photo shoot aren't I?! You can probably tell from the thick carpet of leaves that this was shot in the Autumn (early November 2016 actually). 

I've been meaning to share the images for ages as all the elements came together to produce some gorgeous images; the sun was shining and gave us one of those crisp autumnal days that drives us out into the fresh air, seeking leaves to kick around. And the afternoon light was stunning, flattering and kind to faces and creating golden backgrounds.

This family of five are enjoying some of their last years as a unit dwelling under the same roof. Soon the eldest daughter will be off to university, followed in a few years by her younger siblings. It was the perfect moment to capture them all together and create some lasting memories.

To find out more or to book your family photo shoot contact me (Jane) for a chat.


Kids portraits are helping me get to Kenya!

The children I've photographed so far to fundraise for Kenya.
Towards the end of May 2015 I am going to Kenya with other volunteers to work in three schools in one of the poorest regions of Nakuru, near the Great Rift Valley. The trip has been organised by Derby County Community Trust and African Adventures, both of whom have been sending volunteers to the region for several years.

I am with a group of 45 volunteers, including my sister-in-law Debbie and her sister, Caroline. As a latecomer to the party I had to raise £1400 very quickly to fund the trip. I decided to offer some mini portrait shoots at a specially discounted price and give 80% of the total made to the charity. I'm really pleased to say that there was such a great take up on the mini shoots that I reached my target in just 4 weeks, with some generous donations from my brothers too.

It's been a real joy to photograph so many children in such a short space of time and it made a really nice change to photograph indoors, using my new natural daylight studio.

Special thanks have to go to my niece, Lucy, who was the first to take me up on the offer and then shamelessly promoted it to her friends! These are Lucy's lovely kids - my great niece Bella and nephew Joe (I'm feeling very old now!).

Bella and Joe

I'm going to post about my adventures in Kenya, obviously with lots of photographs, so I hope you'll follow the blog.

I am a natural light photographer, specialising in children's and family portraits and commercial photography. I have a purpose built natural light studio in the heart of rural Cheshire and I also work on location. Take a look at my portfolios and if you'd like to have an informal chat about booking a shoot please get in touch.

Bring on 2015! By Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

When I was made redundant from a role in international marketing in 2007 I knew immediately what I wanted to do: set up my own business taking photographs and writing copy for small businesses, hence the name Picture It Big. Within a few weeks I was heading off in a completely different direction, photographing children at nurseries, after being given an opportunity at my own children's day nursery. Like many new starters I went wherever the business was, hungry to earn money, gain experience and build a portfolio.

A couple of years later I started running photography courses following lots of requests from photography clients. I discovered a new passion: sharing my knowledge with others. It was so rewarding and really enjoyable, although hard to gain enough exposure to fill the course places. I eventually hit on the idea of running workshops from home, thus eliminating the worry of booking and often cancelling venues.

In the meantime I had been reflecting on the photography services I was offering and realised that I needed to focus more on the more profitable areas and on the types of photography I really enjoyed. After all, what's the point of working for yourself, if you are doing stuff that doesn't make you want to leap out of bed in the morning?

As I end my sixth full year in business and look forward to 2015 (a big year in my mind as I turn 50!), I've got a clear business strategy and a wonderful new studio where it will all happen! Portrait and commercial photography will be my main photography focus, both in the studio and on location. I also have a full programme of courses taking place in the studio and interest and take up has so far been phenomenal. The business is being re-branded Jane Burkinshaw Natural Light Photography, to better reflect what I now do, with Love Your Lens as a sub-brand for the photography workshops.

When I look back on the last 6 years, I could kick myself for not having got to this point via a shorter route. If I'm honest I've made tons of mistakes, wasted money on the wrong types of promotion, not always been as focused and dedicated as I could have been. It was very difficult adjusting to a new life of working from home and not having to adhere to a 9 to 5. But if I'm a bit kinder to myself, I know I've learned an enormous amount, about photography and running a business. I've been around to take the kids to after school activities or even just into town to buy Christmas jumpers! I've managed to fit in being a parent governor and a trustee of a charity Gift Of A Wedding. Most importantly, as my husband reminds me, I am no longer the stressed out, slightly depressed person I was back in 2007, when office politics and an unbearable workload dominated my every waking thought.

Via local networking groups I've discovered a whole new community of fellow business owners, who are supportive, knowledgable and generous with their time and advice. Many people have become good friends, along with quite a few of my clients.

As I sit here typing this, I'm grateful that I'm able to be at home to care for a poorly daughter; I'm excited that the electrics are being finished in the studio and I'm looking forward to a Christmas lunch tomorrow, with a lovely crowd of ladies who all run their own businesses and have their own stories of successes and failures, challenges and triumphs.

I think I'd better finish now as I've just read that last sentence! Needless to say I'm really looking forward to 2015 with a new focus and brand spanking new studio (big reveal coming soon)! I need to make the final word a big THANK YOU and shout out to Nic, my husband, who is known as Poor Nic to everyone, for having the misfortune to be married to me. He has been a massive support to me in every way and  I would not have got to this point without him.

Organised chaos on a family photo shoot! By Cheshire Children's Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

This was the most demanding shoot that I've ever done and I have to admit to feeling absolutely shattered as I headed home. Family shoots with several young children are always a challenge and call into play a range of skills from both photographer and parents, along with a huge dollop of patience.

I'm not usually thrown when faced with three boys, in this case 4 months through to 6 years, but I also had to factor in five adults whose first (and in three cases only) language was Chinese. I can't claim to have been in control of this shoot at any one time, with older siblings getting in on the act when I was photographing the baby and then grandparents deciding it was their turn. This isn't unusual and I normally manage it with a few distracting techniques or explaining to everyone what was happening. This wasn't so easy with exaggerated gestures and smiles!

However, despite a huge amount of chaos and chasing around, there are a beautiful set of images of which I'm extra proud, because I know how hard I worked to get them. Baby Eric is stunning and so quick to smile and I'm so pleased I managed to photograph him with his older brothers. The look of pride on Eric's grandfather's face is priceless and I just wish I could have seen his face when he got to see the images.


Capturing those precious moments by Cheshire Baby Photographer Jane Burkinshaw

I've had the very special experience of photographing two babies in recent weeks and both sets of parents have kindly agreed to let me share the photographs. (Click on any image to see a larger version).
This is 2 week old Emelie, a very precious first baby for her mummy and daddy. I encourage parents to let me take natural, unposed pictures of them bonding with the new baby, as these moments are so unique, personal and special and often go unrecorded.
It's so important to get all those tiny new details too - tiny fingers and toes, barely unfurled ears and swirls of hair on the crown of the head. Expressions unique to each baby, the positions they sleep in. I love Emelie's hands thrown up over her head!
Photographing baby's bath time is becoming a bit of a trademark of my newborn shoots, as it's perfect for relaxing a grizzly baby and for capturing some very special bonding moments. Baby's modesty is preserved by using a few bubbles in the bath water.
It's still important to get those slightly more posed photographs that will be displayed on the walls, but I'm a firm believer in keeping it simple and natural. A few simple props are all that's necessary as the baby is the star of the show.

If you can cope with some more cuteness, here's seven month old Callum with his older sister. Photographing very young siblings can be a challenge and my secret is to keep it fun and natural, encouraging play, making it fun and not directing them into difficult poses.
These photos were all taken around the family home, with no need for backdrops or studio lights. Simplicity and speed are the key. (Check out that gorgeous tuft of hair!)
Things don't always go to plan and babies get tired and fed up quite quickly. I keep shooting as this is the time when I can get some fantastic expressions that mum and dad will say: "That is so Callum!"

Callum has reached the end of his patience in this last image, but he looks so adorable and his sister's facial expression and eyes are beautiful!

If you're looking for simply beautiful photographs of your children get in touch. Full details are on the website. Shoots can also take place outdoors in favourite family locations. If you have any questions about how a shoot works and what to expect give me a call.


Baby Photography with a Difference. By Cheshire children's photographer Jane Burkinshaw

This gorgeous boy is Oscar. In the top circular image he is around five months and has discovered the delights of "tummy time". In the shot at the bottom he's around 3 weeks old and is having a cuddle after his bath. These are beautiful shots by which his parents can remember those precious early days.

I first met Oscar's mum and dad when I went to show them how to use their camera to get some great shots themselves. Take a look at my photography courses if this is something that interests you. We hit it off immediately and they booked me to come back and photograph Oscar a week or so later.

I always go to a shoot prepared to do some staged, very cute images with props and hats etc but I often end up also taking lots of pictures that are less formal. This is usually when baby is being settled and cuddled or fed. Many parents prefer these natural, bonding images and this was very much the case at Oscar's session.

I took these pictures when I first got there, when Oscar was wide awake.

Although you can't really tell from these pictures he was being a bit grizzly and unsettled, but really needed a sleep (which is when I usually take the staged photographs). His mum suggested he had a bath (despite it not being bath-time!) and it proved to be a genius suggestion. We got some truly gorgeous photographs of Oscar relaxing in his bath with mum and dad taking it in turns to wash and play with him.

Oscar's parents and family absolutely adore these images as they capture such a special time. Once he was warm and dry, mum asked if we could do some "naked" shots of the three of them. No one was actually naked, except Oscar of course! We did some clever rolling down of dressing gowns and shy dad was coaxed into taking off his shirt! The resulting photos were well worth it and they've ordered the black and white picture of the three of them as a large print on wood (details can be found here). 

With Oscar fast asleep after his relaxing bath I also got the more formal naked baby shots.

But this isn't the end of the story! His parents were so thrilled with how the first shoot went, that they decided to book a Baby's First Year package with me. I went back last month to photograph Oscar again. I did some classic "portrait" type shots - the ones you'd want to frame - but I also did lots of natural pictures of him, including him eating his lunch of swede and carrot (he wasn't very impressed with that course!).

Mum and dad are building up an amazing collection of images for their Baby's First Year album. Time is flying by and it won't be long until I'm next photographing their beautiful baby boy again.

If you are interested in booking a baby photography shoot or one of my other packages, just get in touch. Packages can be tailored to your individual requirements.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too! Like Picture It Big on Facebook to see more of my photography.


How to create a Facebook banner using Picasa (by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Would you like to know how to create a banner like this one for the top of your Facebook page, without using Photoshop and without having to spend money on templates? You can create it easily in Picasa, free software from Google, that helps you to organise, edit and share your photos. Once you've downloaded it and told it which files you keep your pictures in, then you're good to go. It's very easy to use and always preserves your original image, regardless of the editing you perform.

To create a Facebook banner like this, select the photos that you would like to appear in the collage and click on "create collage". I've written a blog on how to create collages so if you're not sure how to do it then take a look at it first. 

You need to make your collage the right size so that it displays correctly on Facebook, so when you are creating it and are selecting the dimensions you need to scroll to the end of the size options and create a custom size. If you enter 30 X 11 as the dimensions and then name it as. Facebook banner, it will always be there for you to use.

Click on the image to see a larger version
You can shuffle the images around in your collage until it looks like you want it to. Just bear in mind that much of the bottom lefthand image will be concealed by your profile picture once you upload the banner to Facebook.

This is how it should look on Facebook once you've uploaded it
Once you've clicked on "Create Collage" and it's finished you will need to re-size it as it will probably be a bit big for Facebook. You need to use the "Export" option at the bottom of the Picasa screen. If you're not sure how to do this I've also written a blog on this(!) so take a look. Re-sizing images in Picasa. I'd re-size this banner to around 1000 pixels.

I love creating different banners for Facebook and keeping it fresh and topical. This one is to celebrate my son's 11th birthday this week.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!


Re-sizing images with Picasa (by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Collage created in Picasa
I'm always singing the praises of Picasa to people who come on my photography courses for beginners. After all it's FREE for the full version and has no annoying ads. Just a reminder of what you can do:

  • Easily view your images in one place.
  • Perform simple edits including removing blemishes.
  • Easily apply creative effects.
  • Add text.
  • Create collages, slideshows, online albums.
And it's so easy and user friendly! To go to Picasa's web page click on the link http://picasa.google.com

I only have one gripe and hopefully they're working on it as I've seen it mentioned by other people - how on earth do you re-size images to make them suitable for using online?! Given that 300 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook daily (!) you'd think there'd be an obvious  "re-size image" button on any editing package wouldn't you?!

You can re-size images with Picasa and even add a copyright statement but it's not obvious how. You have to select your images and hold them in the bottom left tray and then press EXPORT. Don't ask me why!
Click on image to see larger version

This is the pop up window you will see when you click EXPORT.

Click on image to see a larger version

Click on "Resize to" and then select the appropriate size (see my guide below). The maximum size shown is 1600 pixels but you can enter your own value that is higher or lower if you wish. I usually leave the image quality on Automatic. You can also see that you can use a watermark by entering some text and ticking the option.

It's important to specify where you would like the images to be exported to so that you can find them. I usually send them to the Desktop and then periodically delete them to clean up the desktop. Remember that your original files will still be preserved unchanged in their original location.

I usually re-size as follows:

400-600 pixels => to display on mobile phones.
600 pixels => if I want someone to see the image but not be able to print a decent version of it.
800-1000 pixels => for Facebook.
1500-2000 pixels => for Pinterest
2500 pixels => to result in an image that is between 1-2MB and could be printed 4"X6" or 5"X7".

I always copyright my professional pictures with a watermark.

These are based on what works for me.

If I'm emailing images I usually use Picasa's EMAIL button which automatically re-sizes them. Sometimes I EXPORT them first to apply the watermark and then EMAIL the exported images.

I hope this was all clear. If you have any questions please let me know.

If you live in or near Cheshire why not book onto one of my courses and learn lots more!

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!


50/50 project #18/50 Simple fun (by Cheshire portrait photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day 18. Simple fun

50 days with a 50mm lens
This little girl was playing in the shallows with a boat she had built using a piece of polystyrene and a stick, pulling it along on a piece of string. I watched her play for a while and then wandered back to the pub where my two would no doubt be fighting over who could play Doodle Jump next. I passed a family of four playing pooh sticks off the bridge and was tempted to advise them to make the most of it, as such simple fun wouldn't keep them occupied in years to come.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!


50/50 project #17/50 Surfing (by Cheshire childrens photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day 17. Surfing

50 days with a 50mm lens
The kids are old enough to play in the surf on their own now but I still feel the need to check on them periodically (at the end of a chapter in my Asa Larsson Swedish crime thriller). It's a challenge to pick out your own children out of all the silhouetted, wet suit clad kids throwing themselves fearlessly onto each wave. I cheered a boy in a black and red wetsuit as he caught a wave and rode towards me. As I gave him an exaggerated thumbs up I realised with some embarrassment that it wasn't Sam.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!


50/50 project #16/50 ...and relax! (By Cheshire photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day16. ...and relax

50 days with a 50mm lens
After a marathon 6 and a half hour drive down to Pembrokeshire dragging our shed (caravan) behind us, we finally got all set up and felt as if we were on holiday. The caravan site is beautiful, just one mile from the beach and we are looking forward to exploring after a good night's sleep. That might be interesting as there are about a hundred very noisy crows flying from tree to tree on the edge of the site and they are making an almighty racket! Still nice to listen to as the sun sets and I sip a cold beer.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

50/50 #15/50 Keep calm it's onesie time (by Cheshire children's photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day 15. Keep calm it's onesie time

50 days with a 50mm lens

Abbie and I found this onesie today (bargain at £7.99!) and fell in love with it - pity they didn't do my size - or maybe a blessing? Still really want my own onesie before they've gone out of fashion!

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

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50/50 Project #13/50 No more pictures! (by Cheshire children's photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

Day 13. No more pictures!

50 days with a 50mm lens
This is what happens when I take pictures of my kids nowadays! They'll appreciate me one day. We were at Manley Mere adventure trail where it's a bit muddy after the recent rain...

(I think they were both doing victory V signs at me  but one of them got confused with doing it backwards!)

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

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