why i still turn my computer off at 7 p.m.

boy with ipod

it has been 4 years since I started turning my computer off at 7 p.m.

When I first wrote about turning off my computer, my motivation was to spend more time with my family.  Add to that I was exhausted and in need of some necessary me-time of an evening, these two factors helped me to sustain the practice.

Today, my motivations remain the same. And since reading about the impact of blue light on sleep patterns, I’ve become all the more determined to continue.

A (very) brief look at the science behind sleep…

Melatonin is one of the hormones that influences sleep. It is released into your body by the pineal gland, a pea-sized organ found in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. And we all know how important sleep is for your physical (and mental) health.

what does this have to do with blue light?

Blue light can keep the pineal gland from releasing melatonin, thus warding off sleepiness.

Studies have shown that exposure to blue light at night can be linked to several types of cancer (breast, prostate) diabetes, heart disease, obesity and an increased risk for depression. (Blue Light Exposed)

now, I’m the first to admit that technology has its benefits

I use it most days myself.  But, I also know I’m a bear if I don’t get enough sleep (from 7-9 hours is recommended for my age group).

And having a teenage, game-addicted boy in the house strengthens my resolve.

I turn my computer and i-devices off at 7 p.m. It’s good for my health, plus I’m also modeling a positive behaviour for my Little Man (8 1/2 – 9 1/2 hours sleep is needed by him).

There are other factors as well.  Time spent on social media is adding to feelings of jealousy, fear and loneliness in people.  We experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and are finding it harder to be still and silent. And while it’s been wonderful making connections online, nothing beats an eye-to-eye conversation with someone you know and love.

learning to power down is an important life skill

And while it may take some time to learn the discipline, your life will be richer (and healthier) because of it.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Do you power down your devices daily, or are you guilty of leaving your computer on all night?

Have you engaged in a digital sabbatical before?  Would you do it again?


And finally, some additional resources that you might find interesting:

Scientific American – Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?

Harvard Health Publications – Blue light has a dark side

The Sabbath Manifesto – a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.

f.lux – makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

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{documenting life} bathing the dog on an autumn afternoon

Our dog Jo will be 8 this year, and lately we’ve noticed age creeping up on her.

she’s never been a fan of having a bath

but in true dog-style, she insists on laying in the dirt near her kennel, which meant it was time for a freshen up.

A few years back, Warren took pity on her and started bathing her in the bathtub during the colder weather.  That’s now turned into being bathed in the bathtub whenever she needs a wash.  She’s still not a fan of her bath, but I think she’s grateful for the warm water and towel-dry at the end!

jo's sad dog face when she realises it's time for a bath

pouring water over the dog

the dog doesn't like water on her face

having her face washed

licking her face clean

one last rinse

time to catch the shake

are you going to shake dog?

enjoying the towel dry attention

oh, the indignity

the queen of clean

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Do you spoil your dog as much as we (obviously) spoil ours?
Baths in the bathtub, or something else much more indulgent?

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preparation & process: your photography session from start to finish

how your photography session with photography by tasha chawner will proceed

you’ve never had a session before and don’t know what to expect…

…so, I thought I’d outline the process when you book a session with me.

the beginning

You’ve had a look at the portfolio online and decided to get in touch!

Whether by email or phone, now is the time we start to get to know one another. I’ll start by answering any questions you might have about the package you’ve decided to buy.   Then it’s time to get our calendars out to schedule a shoot date.  To secure your date, I need a signed client information and contract form and deposit, and once received your date is locked in.

I’ll follow up this initial conversation by sending you some paperwork. The paperwork states what services I provide to you as the client, the price of your package and important details of my process (turnaround times, studio policies, etc.). I prefer to email it to you so you have plenty of time to read through them.

Two of the most important forms that I’ll need you to attend to straight away are:

1. the questionnaire for you and the family to answer, and;

2. the what to wear guide.

The answers to your questionnaire give me an insight into your family.  Your personalities, what you love doing together and more – little gems that will ensure I can capture your story in an authentic way.  The what to wear guide will take the stress out of deciding what to wear to your shoot. I’ll give you a couple of days to mull this one over before I contact you to see if you need any help.

before your shoot

Communication is key.

I’ll be in touch with you before your shoot to discuss ideas and details, based on the questionnaire that you’ve filled in for me.  I’ll also phone you 2 days before your session to reconfirm your session time and location, and answer any last minute questions you might have.

Before your shoot, I’ll also be doing my own preparation. My main goal is to make you feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera, because your session is meant to be fun! I’ll be thinking about how best to photograph you and the family – poses, props, lighting, to name a few.  The day before, I’ll check that all my camera gear is ready to go, memory cards formatted and that I have a water bottle and snacks on hand.  Plus one last check of what the weather will be doing!

your photo shoot

Before I even take out my camera, we’re going to have a chat – “How’s the weather?” and “Did you hear about….!”

When it’s time to start, I’ll let you know what to expect during the shoot. Because your photo shoot is as much about the experience as the resultant images.

All the while I’ll be checking out the location and light.  Next, come the test shots – to check exposure and shadows, expressions and poses – before we start in earnest.  It’s not a race, though, so while I’ll be keeping the pace moving, the whole shoot will have a relaxed and fun feel to it.  With pointers on how to stand and what to do with your hands, I’ll be looking for the real emotions and spontaneous smiles – the elements that make your family who they are.

after your shoot

That’s when my work really begins.

I won’t be able to resist having a look at your photos!  I’ll load them into Lightroom (my preferred post-processing software) when I get home and will immediately make a backup copy of the photos. It would be awful if something unforeseen were to happen and all the images lost – eek!  I will also find one or two images to share with you on my Facebook page straight away.

I like to wait a day or two before going through and choosing the best-of-the-best photos.  Why?  This gives me time to get over the excitement of the session (because I get nervous and excited too!) and allows me to look at your photos with a critical eye.

Then the editing begins, which happens in intervals over the coming weeks.  I allow 3 to 4 weeks for this process, as I am also working around my family and job as a Learning Support Officer.  My editing philosophy is one of less-is-more. Your photos need to be realistic, especially as you are real people (not models in some high-end fashion shoot). I will reduce bags under eyes, whiten teeth, heal temporary blemishes, and remove distracting elements – but am always careful not to take an image too far.  You don’t want to end up looking like a Barbie…

Your photos are then transferred to a USB.  On your USB, there will be two folders – one labelled For PRINT and the other For WEB.  The print images are large files ready for you to take to your favourite print lab and have made into gorgeous photo keepsakes for your walls.  The web images have my watermark on them and are for you to share on your social media sites.   You also receive a colour and black-and-white version of each curated image (unless of course it really doesn’t work for the photo).  And it goes without saying, that I back these files up in a couple of different locations – just in case.

A phone call from me to say that everything is ready to be delivered, and then ta-dah!

memories plus!

So, there you have it – the steps from initial contact to delivery – anywhere from 4-6 hours, depending on the length of your session and how many photos I am delivering to you.  WOW, right?!

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Did you realise there was this much preparation involved in a photo shoot?  

Photo credit: bessa via photopin (license)

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marinka family portrait session – the kealey family

The Kealey family have been a part of our lives for the past 8 years.

I’ve photographed them all over this time – at afternoons spent by the river, birthday parties, Christmas lunches and evenings filled with love and laughter – but as Sam draws nearer to leaving home and starting his own adventure, Jen has been wanting to do a family portrait session.

With one thing and another, it hadn’t happened.  Until Jen remembered it was my birthday and invited me out to Marinka for a birthday lunch.  She rang a couple of afternoons prior and asked – if it was okay with me – could we follow lunch up with that family portrait session, seeing as everyone was home for the weekend?

How could I resist?!

The dress code for the afternoon was jeans, boots, and works shirts – what everyone is relaxed in at home and outside.  Plus, work never stops on a property, and Sam and Chook had been yarding up cattle as we arrived.

Jen knew where she wanted photos taken on the property, and aside from getting Sam to crack a smile, the whole family is so used to seeing me with camera-in-hand, that they all instinctively knew what to do and where to stand!

When I asked Jen what her favourite part of the afternoon was, she replied “Cuddles from my girls at the end! I don’t love having my photo taken, but doing the shoot with my family, knowing we were getting beautiful images, made it worthwhile.”

kealey family at old buildings

meg kealey who loves to sing and dance

ali kealey and her favourite boots

ali kealey the witty rascal

ria kealey - intelligent, nature-loving girl

sam kealey blue eyed boy

chook kealey and his girls

sam and jen kealey

Ralph, the much loved mini schnauzer

cuddles from ria

kealey family walking the paddock at Marinka

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what is documentary-style photography?

I’ve been reading up on documentary-style photography over the last couple of weeks.

What is documentary-style photography exactly?

Here’s (part of) the Wikipedia definition:

Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle events or environments both significant and relevant to history and historical events and everyday life…

The detail that sets a documentary-style photography session apart from other sessions is that the photos are created with no photographer interaction.

From my perspective as a family photographer, documentary-style photos are the candid photos.  The ones where you’ve managed to capture a connection… a moment… a smile.  Photos that pack an emotional punch – not for everyone, but especially for those who are in them.

How is it different to a lifestyle shoot?

Lifestyle photos are photos that have been orchestrated to create a candid moment, where the photographer will direct the client to set up an unposed (in the traditional portrait sense) image – think mum cradling baby as they sit in a rocking chair and she reads a book.

Why am I doing my homework?

documentary-style photography is my dream vision for my business

Hence, me reading up.

Personally, the photos that bring a smile to my face are the photos that trigger strong memories or evoke a feeling deep inside; images that show my everyday life; my family interacting together; the stories and personalities of the ones I love…   And I know that I’m not alone in this, so it makes sense to me that a documentary-style session is going to be as equally powerful for a client – capturing images where they recognise their daily life;  the real moments, memories and stories.

We’re near the end of our Autumn school holidays, and Warren and Murdoc have been throwing the Vortex around.  They have this running tally-thing happening – catches equal points, drops equal lost points.  I’ve given up keeping of score of who’s winning because it’s been ever-changing, but it was in a moment when they both came in and collapsed on the couch out of breath, that I realised this was a documentary-style moment in our house.


this throw took a lot of effort

playing with the boy

oops, missed

waiting and catching his breath

“But I can capture these moments with my phone.  Why should I pay you to come take these photos for me?”

It’s a valid question (and a whole other discussion for another blog post!).

Know that prior to each session I will take the time to get to know you, develop a relationship with you and gain your trust.  I’ll ask you questions, like “What is your perfect day like?”. I’m going to get to the core of what is important to you and your family.  Yes, we will still plan your session, but as a photographer, I won’t be directing any movement.  I will simply be there, camera in hand, ready to photograph whatever unfolds in your moment.

Together, we will create a photography experience that allows you to return to your moments, as I document your reality in that instant, using light and time to reproduce a moment, as it is perceived by me.

And probably, most importantly of all, YOU will be in these photos.  Because be honest, how often are you in your photos?

Be a part of those authentic, imperfect and honest moments – moments that will spark conversations and help you to remember what otherwise might be forgotten, for years to come.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Have you considered booking a photography session recently?
What, if anything, has held you back?
And would you consider a documentary-style photo session?

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