Through others eyes

Outside Mall Galleries

Outside the Mall Galleries

Last weekend I ventured to the Mall Galleries in London to view the Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2015 show which runs until 1st May. This year it also included a temporary, side exhibition called Inside Portraits (now closed), featuring the two most recent Bulldog Bursary winners Emma Hopkins and Sarah Jane Moon.  This was designed to give the public an insight into the inner workings of producing a portrait and both artists were present – more about this in my next blog.

The main show was a delight, as a photographer who works predominantly with people I am always intrigued by the relationships which exist between the artist or photographer and the subject.  Also as a photographer you rarely have the luxury of time to get to know your subject, so I was fascinated to read in the gallery information that broadly speaking between 2 and 8 sittings  of 1.5 hours would be expected to produce a portrait, the number based on the medium, the artist and their method of work (some work just from a photograph).

I have visited many galleries over the years including numerous trips to the National Portrait Gallery, but this show felt different, somehow much more personal as many of the works were on loan from families who had commissioned the portraits.  The size, shape and media where hugely varied and ranged from small personal sketches to ginormous boardroom paintings of wealthy businessmen behind shiny empty desks.

What surprised me most was how clear the connections were with the painter.   Some works touched your heart as you felt the warmth of the person, that their gaze was purely for you,  yet in others the families or individual looking out appeared uncomfortable or even (in my view) unhappy.  Some had narrative alongside which help the viewer understand the motivations for the painting, others just left me wondering.  Am I looking for too much clarity, the type of clarity you get with a portrait photograph, some of the painting were almost abstract in their representation of the person, some of the works definitely left me feeling uneasy.

Capturing an image either in photography or by a painter, feels to me like a huge responsibility, but unlike a painted portrait, a photographer can capture many moments in a sitting and the client can choose how they are portrayed.  I wonder what happens if a sitter does not like the finished work of art? If perhaps the wrong moment or expression was chosen?  I have often commented on the subjectivity of image capture, this is especially relevant when photographing children.  I can look at a photograph and see a well composed, well taken image of a child with a great expression on their face, I can show this image to the parent who may love it or may say they don’t recognise that representation of their child, but the next image taken within seconds is perfect.  I think the challenges facing a portrait painter must be huge.

There is a whistle stop tour of the show here:

In my next blog I will share my meeting with the lovely Emma Hopkins 2014/15 Bulldog Bursary winner.

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Coming home to food

Those of you who know me, know that I love food, particularly cooking it and sharing it. To me nothing is a greater demonstration of love than a meal shared with friends around the table. A friend once described my kitchen table as a time machine ‘We sit down for lunch at 1pm and find ourselves still immersed in conversation at 2am surrounded by empty plates, glasses and candle wax’.08-Food-108

You will also know that I love my job as a professional photographer – this weekend I had the delightful privilege of sharing both of these joys with one of my heroes! Roger Stowell is a fabulously talented food photographer, who now resides with his lovely wife Jenny in France. He usually runs food photography courses from his home in the Vendee, but this month he has joined forces with his son Sam  to run a series of amazing workshops from Sam’s studio in SW18.12-Food-112



I joined them on Sunday, along with 3 other foodie photography geeks to polish up my gastro capturing skills. I was also delighted to find that Cara Hobday  would be our food stylist. Roger and Sam make a great double act and also appear to have some telepathic powers even when working on either side of the channel! Between them and Cara they packed the day with entertainment, insight and knowledge, gained with years of experience working for the likes of Waitrose, Olive Magazine, Jamie Oliver, Fortnum & Mason and Sainsbury to name but a few.

Working entirely with available light, we photographed fresh mushrooms, crispy salads, golden olive oil, eggs, creme brulee, Cara in action at the hob and so much more. Standing on ladders and even on stove tops to capture dishes looking their very best. 15-Food-115

A gorgeous lunch of Chicken and Chorizo appeared followed by outrageously stinky cheese, courtesy of the the Vendee.

We laughed, we learned, we created, we shared and we talked. I have come away from the course having honed my food photography skills, boosted my confidence and met people who I know I will see again.

Hope you like this small sample of my images from the day.06-Food-101 04-Food-105 22-Food-121 02-Food-103 03-Food-10418-Food-11717-Food-100

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Del buon gusto….

…or ‘of good taste’.  And indeed it was I have just had the delightful job of photographing delicious Italian food for a new commercial client.

Divine meatball bake using delicious Cook Italian ingredients

My friends at Willow Marketing selected Sara Noel Photography to capture some tasty seasonal dishes featuring the ingredients supplied by their client ‘Cook Italian’.

Minestrone soup with lovely little pasta shapes from Cook Italian range, and served in a whole pumpkin – perfect for Halloween.

Working with my client we created five fabulous dishes for Autumn – here is just a tempting taster.   These lovely dishes with recipes can also be found on the Cook Italian Facebook page.

Sausage & Bean casserole made with rich tinned Italian tomatoes from the Cook Italian range and served with a chunk of crusty bread.

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Capturing Creative Expression

Ink and Watercolour original from Sue Rapley Art

Ink and Watercolour original from Sue Rapley Art

In order to stay fresh in your creativity, ‘they’ say it is important to continually add challenges to your daily work routines.   Never one to debunk ‘they’ I decided to add another string to my photography bow.

Living and working in Cambridge I am privileged to be surrounded by a vast range of hugely talented artist and creative professionals. One in particular is a good friend.  She suggested I use my photographic talents to capture the work of artists who always need images of their work for websites, marketing and sales material.  This was a chance I could not afford to miss and, with her help and support I have built a new and inspiring aspect to my business. is born.


Necklace from Janet Powell – Silversmith and Jeweller

Working with local artists is wonderful, I thought at first that it would not be easy to step away from the wonderful interactions I have with my clients when photographing people young and old.  Very quickly however I have discovered that each piece of work I photograph is almost as important to its creator as a member of their family would be.  I love to hear about the creative process they have been through, from the first germ of an idea,  the challenges and adventures they face working with different or new materials and then the excitement and anxiety of releasing their work into the world.

I still love photographing tiny babies, fabulous families and beautiful bodies but have found a new joy in capturing the spirit of creativity in the work of these very talented artists and creative professionals.

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365 day sixty four

There are pen pots and then there are pen pots!


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365 day sixtythree

Turn up the music and just dance……….

Turn up the music and dance

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365 day sixtytwo

raindropsTrying to find the brighter side of the constant rain.  What do you think?

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Hello, anyone out there?

Well its good to be back and I rejoice in the rays of sunshine currently peeking through the clouds!

Apologies for the long absence, I took a little timeout and visited sunnier shores,  then been catching up on all that stuff that just piles up when you are away, both personal and professional – not to mention the washing and the junk mail!  Depressingly it has rained every single day since our return and I have to say that has magnified the ‘post holiday blues’ by 100%!  I do however have loads of images to share, even thought I did not upload my 365 images daily.  In order not to swam the post I have decided to just to put up some to show you that I have not just been twiddling my thumbs and normal daily posting will resume tomorrow.matlacha

I know I said I was doing this just for myself and was not even sure anyone would find this interesting, but it is surprising how many people from the real (non-virtual) world have approached me in the street,  at the school gate, in the local cafe,  at parties or even in meetings to comment on the images.  You maybe a quiet bunch on-line but I am glad to know you are out there!


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365 day twentythree

Playing again today with some new techniques, these of the top poles of a teepee structure bound with nylon rope.  I was looking for a shot that I could add impact in the computer – still learning but I quite like this one.binding

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365 day twentytwo

This is a shot I have been thinking about taking for a good few years, don’t know why I took so long to get round to it.   This image is called ‘father and son’ for obvious reasons.  I think this would make a good Fathers Day card image.

father and son

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