Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers – Gold Awards

I am a member of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers, and each month they hold an image competition for their members. The images are judged by Fellows of the Society and the aim is to achieve either a Highly Commended Award or the very sought after Gold Award.

Following the excitement in December 2013 of having two of my Highly Commended images upgraded to Gold, my first two Golds!  I was therefore thrilled to find out that two of my entries for the January 2014 competition were award  Gold.  The certificates arrived in the post today!

The first was in the Studio Portrait Category and the second was in the Nature category.

Mel_Taylor_Portrait Studio_January_UK_14

Studio Portrait – Three Generations.


Nature – Butterfly at Sunset

Thank you for taking the time to look at this post.

Little Egret

The little egret is a type of small heron with a body length of 56-61cm. It has white feathers with fluffy white plumes on its crest, on its chest and on its back above the tail feathers. The bill and legs are black, although its feet are bright yellow.

IMG_9578Little Egret with a catch!

It first appeared in the UK in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996. Its colonization followed naturally from a range expansion intro western and northern France in previous decades. It is now at home on numerous south coast sites, both as a breeding species and as a winter visitor. It is included on the Amber List as rare breeding species.

They feed by walking through the water and catching prey such as fish and crustaceans.

I am lucky that each winter we are graced with the presence of one or two Little Egrets in Letcombe. I often spot them in the Nature Reserve and at the Deer farm which has a water hole. They also spend some time on the cress beds at Letcombe Bassett.

These are shy birds and therefore difficult to get close to and photograph. I have sat for hours waiting to get shots of them fishing. Here are some of my favourite images of them.

Little Egret in flight

In flight

Little Egret

Little Egret LandingLanding at the Cress beds at Letcombe Bassett

IMG_6761Having a bath!

IMG_8112BWIn the mud at the Deer Farm

Little Egret FishingMid catch – look inside the beak!

Wedding Pre-Shoots

The wedding season will soon be up on us and although weddings take place throughout the year, summer is far the most popular.
As part of the wedding preparations have a pre-shoot with each of my couples. To me this is one of the most important things a Wedding Photographers should do. For me it is vital and something that I insist on.

Although I have already met my Wedding couple and talked in length about the plans for their big day and the ideas of what they would like and not like prior to me being booked and with the knowledge that I will meet up with them at the Wedding venue a couple of weeks before the big day to look at the space, the decor, the lighting and photographic opportunities to me these meetings can not replace the value of a pre-shoot.

It is at the pre-shoot that I get to really get to know my Wedding couples better, find out what their personalities, their fears and concerns, what they are really like and how comfortable they are or aren’t  in front of the camera.

I get to see how they react with each other. Some people are uncomfortable being affectionate in public, other are not. I don’t want to be asking my couples to do things on their wedding day that they are not comfortable with.

I need to understand how they react with each other. What makes them laugh, give help and guidance on posing so it is not awkward on the day. I want my couples to understanding why I may head for the shade on a bright sunny day to avoid harsh shadows on their faces so they come willingly and don’t think I have gone completely mad! I cover all the types of things we will be doing on the day so there are no big surprises and everyone is happy going forward to the wedding day.

The sessions are fun and informal and taken preferably between 6-3 months before the wedding. It gives the couple a chance to get to know me, and see my work and be sure they have selected the right photographer. They also get a Mounted 12″x8″ print of their choice from the session.

The location of the shoot will vary depending on the time of year and locations that may be special to the couple. I try to do all pre-shoots out on location as this is more realistic to a wedding day.

Here are a few images taken on pre-shoots.  For more details on my Wedding Photography please go to my website

Wedding Pre-Shoot Taken at the Nature Reserve,Letcombe Regis

IMG_5184B&WLetcombe Regis, Nature Reserve, Sadly these big trees have now been chopped down.

IMG_4663SSt Andrews Church, Letcombe Regis

IMG_4811FThe Ridgeway, near Wantage

ZX7A3544FCGreat Coxwell

ZX7A0131FLetcombe Regis Village

ZX7A0059FBWThe Ridgeway, Letcombe Regis

IMG_7875vBWThe Recreation Ground, Letcombe Regis

IMG_7913FThe Ridgeway, near Wantage

ZX7A1289FBWViews over Letcombe Regis from Segsbury Camp

ZX7A1191FThe Nature Reserve, Letcombe Regis

Short-eared Owl

There are not many days that I do not take my camera out with me whilst walking the dogs and I am constantly on the look out for wildlife. One particular walk I do has given me the opportunity to photograph Short-eared Owls.

Short eared Owl

Short-eared owls are medium-sized owls with mottled brown bodies and have pale under-wings and stunning yellow eyes. They are commonly seen hunting during the day. In winter, there is an influx of continental birds (from Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland) to northern, eastern, and parts of central southern England, especially around the coast. They are an Amber List species.

Short Eared Owl Flight

Unlike many other owls, short-eared owls can frequently be seen hunting in broad daylight as well as in the early evening. They are skilled predators with keen vision even in low light and hearing accurate enough to pinpoint a small mammal in the undergrowth.


Short-eared Owls hunt mainly at night and during the morning and late afternoon. They fly over open areas, a few feet above ground, and pounce when prey is found. In thick vegetation they will hover over prey, often for extended periods when facing into the wind, before pouncing. They occasionally hunt from a perch or while standing on the ground. Short-eared Owls eat mainly small mammals, but sometimes take birds. Meadow voles  are the primary prey and these can be seen caught in the images below.  Deer mice, shrews, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, pocket mice, moles, rats, bats, rabbits, and muskrats are also taken.

Short Eared Owl

Shorte Eared Owl Hunting

The images below were all taken in December, January or February I have not seen the birds in other months. The images were taken either early morning or just before sunrise. Sadly I have not seen any of these Owls this winter. This may be due to the wet weather we have been having in the UK.  They are amazing birds to watch and I feel honoured to have been able to capture them in the wild.

Shorte Eared Owl

A Portrait of my dog….

I have always been in love with this coat colouring and Collies as a breed. My first ever puppy, Tag was a Blue Merle Collie, a very sweet boy, followed me around like a Lamb, cried like a baby at night but contracted Parvovirus and sadly died 11 days after I had got him. The friend who I had got him from very kindly gave me his Mum as she was no longer being worked at the farm. Blue, surprise, surprise, another Blue Merle. She was a darling. Could not have asked for a sweeter, more obedient companion. She lived a great life and holds a very firm place in my heart.

Did you know that Merle is a pattern in a dogs coat, though is commonly incorrectly referred to as a colour.  The merle gene creates mottled patches of color in a solid piebald coat, blue or odd coloured eyes, and can affect skin pigment as well.

I now have another Blue Merle. Maya. She was 5 yrs this month. It seems ages ago that she was just a little pup. I wanted another Collie to do Agility with and the same friend I got Blue from had their bitch in pup to the Blue Merle dog they had. Working sheep dogs. That was it… I wanted on… but it had to be a girl and it had to be a Blue Merle… luckily on the 11th January 2009, Maya was born and two days later I was across to see her. There were no hard decisions. She was the only Blue girl.

Blue Merle Puppy

There was no going back. I fell in love and she was mine. The following weeks passed slowly but we had regular visits to watch her grow. She got nicknamed Stumpy as she had a very short tail and was rather plumb to say the least.

Blue Merle Collie PuppyI took her home at 7 weeks olds and she was greeted by the Big Bad Wolf..

Fighting Collie dog and puppy

However, what goes around comes around! She soon learned how to look after herself! She is definitely the top dog in the house now!

Playing Collies

She loves agility more than anything else and we are trained by the wonderful Jo Fraser. We have grown together in over the last three years. We started puppy with training with Jo and so far she has helped us move up to Grade 3, as you can see below she showed an interest in jumping from an early age!


I doubt we will ever join the Elite Competitors who sit at Grade 7, but we will have fun trying. Unfortunately, last season we did very little due to my broken foot in April and Mayas leg injury later in the year. Hopefully we can both gain full fitness and maintain it for the coming season. I would like to climb to at least the next grade in 2014.  The competition is fierce with usually 200-300 dogs per class at Kennel Club events.

For those of you who don’t know what Dog agility is, it is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off the lead with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can not touch neither dog nor obstacles. Consequently the handler’s controls are limited to voice, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

This image was taking during a training session. Sadly I have not yet learnt the art of running her in a competition and taking images of us at the same time!

Tyre Jump

Apart from Agility training, we love to walk and look for and photograph wildlife. Maya and her companion Flynn are the subjects of many of my images. I was delighted in 2013 to be shortlisted with an image I had taken of Maya in the Hamdan International Photography Award and I also had my image published in their book,  The Beauty of Light, and displayed at the Royal Geographical Society in London at their exhibition. I also gained two Gold Awards with the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers in 2013 with images that I had taken of Maya.

Maya is without doubt my most patient Model, there are not many places that she will not stand, sit or lie down for me and will stay until she is asked to move. Below are two examples location portraits of her.


To celebrate her 5th birthday this week she had a play in the Studio today. I love the Pet Portrait side of my business and offer both location and Studio sessions.

PortraitAlley Dog

Please refer to my website for further details. or call me on 01235 763359 if you are interested in booking a session.

Newborn and Baby Photography

I am offering Newborn and Baby photography in Oxfordshire. My aim is to bring beautiful but simplistic Newborn and Baby photography to Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas.

Newborn Baby

Newborn baby session are best done in the first 7-12 days, although having spent two weeks in hospital with my first baby I know that this is not always possible. Therefore we can try to get the sleepy poses everyone loves so much up to 8 weeks old. If your baby is older than this then don’t discount the option but give me a call to discuss what the best options are, depending on your babies routine.

All sessions are based in my home studio and the pace of the session is determined by your baby and his or her sleeping patterns. I usually suggest that you allow up to four hours for a Newborn session which accommodates, feeding time, winding, nappy changes, cuddles, soothing to sleep and change of photographic sets.  Light refreshments are provided and you will be with your baby at all times. Mum and Dad can both be involved or you can double up with a friend and share a session and have a good catch up at the same time.

Prior to your session I will talk to you about whether you have any favorite hobbies that we may try to set a theme for, and what colour schemes you like. You are welcome to bring toys and personal items from home to use as props, but I also have a good selection here.

Newborn Baby Portrait sessions can be provisionally booked prior to the birth and if your baby is late or early the session can be moved accordingly. Why not treat yourself to a “Watch Me Grow” session and get three studio sessions for the price of two and capture the important milestones in their first year.  For further details and images please look at my website

Newborn Baby

Older baby sessions are usually an hour to an hour and a half long. This allows time for your baby to get comfortable in the new surroundings and with me, and a few changes of set and outfits. It is best to book your appointment for the time of day that your baby is normally alert and happiest.

Baby Photography

Please “Like” my Facebook business page and share with friends to keep up to date on the latest offers and promotions. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to call me on 01235 763359.