Shadows, Snakes and Studio Photography

Having a makeup artist friend when you’re a portrait photographer is pretty much a golden ticket. Not only is she talented, she’s gorgeous. So, when I had an idea for a dark, Medusa-inspired photoshoot, who else would I ask to be involved other than my gorgeous makeup artist friend, Katherine, who has three pet snakes? Although I’ll soon be creating a whole new website and blog for my photography work, I just couldn’t wait to share a few of the final photographs from this one.

I built up my ideas for the shoot over a few days and, seeing as this was my vision, she gave me free reign on her hair and makeup. Big hair, tight curls, dark eye makeup, green contouring on the face, neck and collarbones, pointed, long black nails. I knew the lighting setup I wanted, I knew the poses I wanted to capture, I knew the snakes were gunna play a huge role. I was so excited and for good reason too – it turned out to be my favourite ever photoshoots.

Although colour was a massive focus during the shoot, I fell in love with the darkness of black and white. Here’s a few of the final black and white images!

Snake Studio Photography Black and WhiteSnake Studio Photography Black and WhiteSnake Studio Photography Black and WhiteSnake Studio Photography Black and WhiteSnake Studio Photography Black and WhiteSnake Studio Photography Black and White

They say never work with animals… man, those snakes were hard work but they were worth it. I absolutely loved this session with Kat and she’s just as over the moon with the final images as I am.

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What do you think?

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Hi, Friends, I’m Back

As I sit here, watching Jeremy Kyle on catch-up TV, with a mushroom and ale pie cooking in the oven and a cup of tea in my hand, I couldn’t shake the guilty pit that was building up in my stomach. My beloved blog, where have I been? All of my lovely readers, I’ve treat you so badly. Don’t for a second think that this came easily. Every single day I think “Is today the day? Do I have time?” and since Valentine’s Day, the answer has always been no.

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I have reasons though, so let me explain.

I’m in the final two months of university. As you can imagine, all of my deadlines and exams have come crashing down. That’s not my issue though – I work so well under pressure and I’m great at what I do. The work isn’t the problem. What I’m struggling with is the lack of passion I have left for the whole degree and any prospect of going into this field of work after graduation makes me feel sick. I hate it. Believe me, it’s incredibly difficult to put your heart into working hard on something when you hate it so much.

Silver lining? I realised what I actually want to do for a living. I’ve always known, but I didn’t believe it would be possible. I want to be a photographer. Always have, always will, and I finally think it’s in my reach. I remember debating whether or not I should study photography at university, but I was met with laughter. Being easily influenced by other’s opinions of me, I gave that dream up. However, last year, I set up my own portrait studio at home and I’ve been steadily and happily growing my clientele ever since. I love every second I spend with a camera in my hand. The problem is that I have a hard decision to make – follow my dreams and make very little money after graduation, placing a lot more pressure on Matthew to get a job that supports us both, or follow my degree’s career path, be incredibly unhappy and make a lot of money. Happiness or money?

During my year in industry at university, I spent my time as a software developer for a company that builds software for the fire service. The work was fine but the environment was soul destroying. I broke. My whole mental health was shaken and I’ve never been the same since. It’s been over a year now and I still fight daily. Honestly, I don’t think I could do that again. This is horrible to admit, and I’m sorry, but I wanted to die. I’ve never felt such pain. I’ve been getting better and I don’t want to go back to that dark place.

If I didn’t experience that, without a doubt, I’d be happy running and dancing and bounding straight into a graduate developer role after university. However, I now know better. On the other hand, if I didn’t have a fiance, a home, two precious fur babies, a wedding on the horizon and if I had a bed to return to at my parent’s home like a lot of single students, following my dream would be a piece of cake.

Yeah, there’s a lot going on in my head right now. I won’t know which path I’ll follow for a few months yet, so I can’t imagine I’m suddenly going to be back like nothing happened, but I’ll try. With me in the process of creating social media channels and a blog for my photography, my entire social media presence is soon to increase. Maybe that will influence me to write more often, too. I hope so!

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I’m massively sorry that my reintroduction to this sweet little blog was such an unhappy one, but sometimes the truth needs to be told. Getting something off your chest is always a sure way to make yourself feel a little bit better, and I sure as hell don’t feel that guilty pit in my stomach anymore! Honestly, one blog post later, I do feel a lot more excited to be back (again).

How have you been?

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Why Hate Valentine’s Day?

It’s that time of year again, when the entire world is split into three camps: the lovers, the haters and those who couldn’t care less. Despite the day’s focus on romance, there seems to be a huge amount of bitterness and hostility between the lovers and haters of Valentine’s Day, and I’ve never understood why. Personally, I love Valentine’s Day – I don’t go out of my way to plan something special every year, nor do I buy or expect expensive gifts and gestures. I just really like the idea of a holiday that’s sole focus is romance.

Matthew and I are both thrifty (well, you have to be when you’re a poor student) romantics at heart, so Valentine’s Day has never been a chore for us. Last year, we made a huge blanket fort, watched films and slept in the living room. It was memorable, cute as hell and it meant we could spend the whole night being totally together. Sure, we could have done that any other day of the year too, but our blanket fort felt like a great idea for Valentine’s Day. This year, we’re making our own pizzas, having a glass of wine and watching a film – for us, that’s perfect.

Valentine's Day Flowers - Why Hate Valentine's Day?

The busy parents, unhappy singletons and those who are struggling either physically or mentally, simply can’t and/or don’t want to celebrate, and of course I understand that. However, there are also some popular yet trivial problems that people tend to have with Valentine’s Day, and although I recognise them, I really do not understand them.

I love my partner every single day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day:

Of course, me too! But, I also don’t see any harm in saying “Happy Valentine’s Day!” instead of “Morning!” when I wake up – either way, Matt still gets a kiss and a cuddle.

You can’t celebrate when you’re single:

Sure you can. Go see your mum or your grandma and, if you have some money, buy them a bunch of flowers. Celebrate with your single friends. Why not just have a night in, with your favourite food and favourite film? Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, not just romantic love. Celebrate familial love, friendship and self-love.

It’s a day for couples to rub their relationships in other people’s faces:

Definitely not. If love, or seeing love in others, bothers you then you’re clearly going through some hardship that you need to take control of. If you’re not and simply seeing happy couples genuinely bothers you, you have issues and your hate should not be projected onto the happiness of others. That’s your problem, sort it out.

It’s just another money grabbing holiday:

Yep, probably, but who is making you spend money? Romance isn’t expensive gifts and extravagant date nights. It can be a homemade meals, or making your own Valentine’s Day cards. Self-love doesn’t have to be expensive either. No need for fancy spas: run yourself a bubble bath and paint your toe nails.

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There’s no need to hate Valentine’s Day. Even if you don’t celebrate, you have to admit, it’s a pretty cute idea. Love is in the air today, so don’t shoot it down.

What do you think of Valentine’s Day?

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You can read my previous post here.

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

5 Amazing Tarantino Movie Moments

Before I met Matt, I hadn’t ever watched a famous Tarantino film and it makes me cringe to even admit that. He’s practically a living legend, right? I missed out for a very long time. Even when Matt tried to introduce me to his work, I was apprehensive and I put them off for such a long time – for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

We practically lived and died films for years. We’d fit in 20 minutes of a film whilst on the bus to the cinema to watch one of the new releases, before watching another 20 minutes on the bus back home. Straight after college, we’d see what ‘LoveFilm’ disc had been posted to us and we’d stick one on. All films were discussed and rated afterwards on our IMDB account – if our personal ratings differed, we would even rate them as an average of our two scores. Super nerdy, I know, but we loved it.

Pulp Fiction Dance Scene Tarantino Movie Moments

What I’m trying to say is, after all of that, I still hadn’t watched any film directed by Quentin Tarantino. Thankfully, I eventually sat back and let Matt take me on a Tarantino journey, and although we’re nowhere near finished, we’ve made pretty good progress.

Here are some of my favourite Tarantino movie moments so far. Narrowing it down to five was difficult, so you’re going to have to forgive the countless other incredible scenes that haven’e been included!

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The Bride Vs. Gogo Yubari Fight Scene from Kill Bill Vol. 1:

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Jack Rabbit Slims Dance Scene from Pulp Fiction:

Jack Rabbit Slims Dance Scene Pulp Fiction Gif

Basement Bar Scene from Inglorious Basterds:

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Ear Cutting Scene from Reservoir Dogs:

Ear Cutting Scene Reservoir Dogs Gif

Burning Theatre Scene from Inglorious Basterds:

Burning Theatre Scene Inglorious Basterds Gif

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What’s your favourite Tarantino movie moment?

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Giants of Rock | Minehead

Giants of Rock – sounds great already, right? – is an annual adults-only rock festival hosted by the one and only Butlins. I promise, this is not a joke post. Butlins really does host a rock weekend.

You think of Butlins and, like me, you probably think of the seaside, family holidays, cheesy music and a place as far away as humanly possible from several thousand rockers. You’d be right, because Butlins is an awesome place for a family holiday, but did you know they also regularly hold live music weekends just for us grown-ups? And they’re incredible.

At the end of January, Matthew and I, alongside Mark and Kat – also known as Matt’s brother & brother’s girlfriend, good friends, best man & maid of honour, which ever tickles your fancy – jumped into the car for a 5 hour car-ride down to Minehead. We booked this weekend away so long ago, on a bit of a whim really, after visiting Matt’s mum and her foster children during on of their family holidays at Butlins. All four of us are child-free and loving it, so whilst Butlins (and the prospects of music, drinks and swimming) is forever enticing, the idea of spending a long weekend around many, many children is not. All they had to do was throw in “adults-only” and “rock music” and we were sold.

The music was, obviously, the highlight of the entire weekend. Surprisingly, though, the surrounding area came a very, very close second and that’s what I want to share with you today.

Minehead Butlins Beach Sunset

The Butlins resort we stayed in was in Minehead – almost 300 miles from our home city. It’s down in Somerset (which is also kind of near Wales), so even the car ride was a thing of beauty. I’m a bit dramatic when it comes to nature, I guess you’d say. I can’t quite control my excitement with how overwhelmingly and sincerely beautiful I find everything. It still baffles me how people can pass rolling hills and not look at them in awe, but that’s a story for another day. So, when we rocked up at the resort and head down to the nearby beach, I was blown away.

The beach seemed to start right at the base of a huge cliff, before winding all the way over mounds of huge rocks, around the bright green fields of a nearby golf course and into rolling hills in the distance. It went on forever.

Minehead Butlins Beach SunsetMinehead Butlins Beach Sunset

We went for two walks on the beach. One walk was full of fog and an orange sun that made the whole place look warm (even though it wasn’t). Even in the fog, it was incredible. During the second walk, we caught the sunset before almost being caught in the high tide. You bet we practically ran back to safety.  I could have walked up and down that beach for days… but only minutes away was the Butlins resort calling us back with an itinerary full of rock music and how could we turn that down?

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Have you ever been to Minehead or Somerset? I wish we could have explored a little more but, this time, we paid for the music and not for the nature!

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

Matt Asks Me Weird Things

You know what’s a really incredible thing? Loving and living with your absolute best friend in the world.

After 5 and a half years – or, almost 2000 days (I don’t know why I Googled that) – being asked weird questions by my better half, Matthew, has become the norm. We have the strangest conversations, like everyone else, but Matt in particular comes up with the most ridiculous things. Tonight, I was thinking about this one particular memory, and I suddenly remembered that I noted down a few of the weird questions he asked me, just for, I don’t know, future notice, I guess.  We went on a summer hike in the middle of nowhere, and periodically throughout the walk, he’d turn to me and ask a question. As if the beautiful walk, rolling hills, and blazing sunshine wasn’t enough, this made for a super special memory.

For all you lucky people that do live with your best friend, especially if that best friend of yours is a massive, random weirdo, you’re probably gonna relate with me a little here! If not, admire a few of the weird and wonderful things that Matthew thought to ask me throughout the duration of one hour.

Green Landscape Trees

If you had a horse, what would you name him?

Frasier, Dougie, Ezekiel, Felix. I think I love Ezekiel the most, but I can imagine my fictional, beautiful, shiny stallion with all of the above names.

What mythical animal would you most love to find in the wild?

To clarify, he also meant “to find and have as a per”. This was easy for me. I’d want to find a domesticated unicorn or Pegasus or Rapidash (do Pokémon count?). As you probably already guessed, I’m pretty obsessed with horses – but, alas, I do not own a horse. I did also consider a Phoenix because 1) it’s beautiful, 2) you won’t be sad when it dies, because it will come back to life 3) they have the ability to heal with their tears.

Would you chop off your own arm if you could replace it with a mechanical one?

Basically, no. We debated this one for a while because, yes, the mechanical arm has countless advantages but I can’t imagine any of those advantages outweighing the unimaginable pain of having to cut your own arm off. I also like the idea of, at least for now, being completely human. If you were offering a deal more like “would you chop of your pinkie to become a bionic human, or human 2.0, with massively improved cognitive functions?” then I might say yes.

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What do you think?

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The Wall Street Crash

My lovely friend Kat, who’s a qualified makeup artist and is studying a degree in the subject, recently asked me if I’d be the model for a 1920’s makeup competition that she was taking part in. Now, if you don’t already know, I’m ridiculously uncomfortable in front of the camera. I can tolerate the odd “Matthew, take a photograph of me in front of this beautiful landmark” type thing, because I know it’s my camera and I could always delete it anyway. Again, when I’m feeling pretty fly (hands up if you just mumbled “for a white guy”), I’ll take a cheeky selfie. But, the idea of putting that power into the hands of a professional, meaning I’d be unable to double check and delete any images that made me look bad, gave me the jitters. She’s my friend, though, and I was absolutely over the moon to help her out. Either way, I got to dress up as a rich 1920’s lady of leisure and that was pretty exciting.

For me, a full face of makeup is made up of my trusty mascara, winged eyeliner, translucent power on my nose and a bit of red lippy. Being put into the hands of a makeup artist, who literally has a suitcase full of makeup with her, was pretty daunting. I was met with primer, foundation, a ridiculous number of different eye shadows, false lashes and lots of other things that I don’t even know the name of. Honestly, it felt weird but I definitely wouldn’t look too out of place during the 1920’s.

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The brief was “Wall Street Crash”. Kat’s plan was to do a full face of 1920’s inspired make-up, before sitting me down alongside lots of other models, as all of the makeup artists performed their special effects magic. I was expecting a pretty tense atmosphere but I actually had a really good time – Kat covered me in fake blood, cuts and bruises, whilst I just sat there and watched the world go by. There was such a range of different looks going on in the competition room. Some makeup artists went for realism, like Kat, and some took it to the other (far) end of the spectrum with stilettos in eyeballs or shards of glass sticking out of the model’s skin.

Kat’s overall look was incredible. It showed how I was trampled during the people’s rush to the banks, hence the huge bruising to one side of my face. It looks bloody painful, right!?

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Ouch…

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Didn’t she do such a good job!? If you want to have a look at her makeup artist Facebook page, you can click here! She posts all of her makeup work – from beauty makeup to special effects – on this page, so it’s definitely worth a like.

What do you think of the final look?

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