Wednesday, 30 September 2015

In Celebration Of Film Photography

This August saw me taking more film photos than any other month since I purchased my beloved film camera, so I thought today I would share my favourite snaps while telling you why I love film photography!

At first, shooting with my Canon AE-1 felt like a totally alien experience... I had no idea how much I depended on my auto-focus or viewfinder screen until both were gone! The first roll felt like such a gamble; I remember taking each shot without the faintest clue whether I was getting something worthwhile.

Thankfully, that first roll came out far better than I expected (for anyone interested you can see it here - I think I've improved somewhat since then!) and I've been snapping away ever since.

Prior to picking up my own film camera, I had often heard people saying that shooting analog helped them to be better photographers. Now I can totally understand what those people meant: as every shot is precious, and any duff pic feels like a waste, I am far more careful with how I frame each image. Getting things straight, in focus and correctly exposed seemed unthinkable at first; it took me a very long time before I moved away from the automatic function! I have however grown far better at doing all three and shooting with my digital camera now feels far easier (though much less rewarding... Film really does look better!)

For anyone who doesn't own a film camera or have any experience from learning photography, I still urge you to look into finding one for yourself. I bought mine knowing next to nothing about photography and it has been an amazing learning process.

If you are starting out:

  • Make sure your load your film properly. There is no worse feeling than finding out those special shots you were so proud to capture are lost. Before I really got to grips with my camera, there were several failed film rolls that still sadden me now!
  • Shop around for a good deal. I bought my camera on Gumtree with a couple of lenses and equipment for a bargain so good it bordered on theft... So it is well worth taking your time and doing your research.
  • Read up on photography basics. I read Helena La Petite's exposure series when I was just getting my head around manual settings and really recommend it.
  • Get to grips with your specific camera. I bought one with its original manual, but also found a wealth of resources online, including some incredibly detailed YouTube videos.
  • Have fun. Just get shooting. Mess up spectacularly. Learn to love a good light leak. Then come and show me any of your faves, I would love to see them!

Have you guys got the film bug yet? It is a gorgeous way to save your memories! I am also putting together a post on my favourite film photographers too, so stay tuned...


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

My New Approach To Blogging

Good day friends, I hope this post finds you all well! You will have to forgive me for not posting last week; work was bonkers this month and then my body decided to celebrate my first quiet week by getting unexpectedly ill in mid September, not something that has ever happened to me before!

The order of business for today however is my new approach to blogging... As many of you are aware I took a three month (ish) hiatus from this space earlier in the year and used it to get all kinds of reflective about what I wanted the blog to be about.

To that end I've compiled some ideas for my new approach; I do not at all think they should be seen as some kind of blueprint (or worse still, lecture) for anyone reading this, but instead I hope they will serve a form of inspiration for my fellow bloggers.

Let's dive into things, shall we?


I remain equal parts baffled and deeply impressed by bloggers who can produce flawless content multiple times a week... but I am most certainly not that girl. I realised that by pressuring myself to hit publish twice a week, I felt rushed and ended up writing posts I wasn't totally happy with. My new process is to jot a few notes in my trusty blogging notebook, mull over them for a few days and then have a leisurely type up session. At present I've cut back to one written post a week (with the odd video and fun post as and when) and it's suiting me fine.


I've never been someone who is ahead of the curve in any aspect of life and therefore feel it's better I steer clear of trends altogether. There are always certain formats or topics that are "in" at any given time and unless I feel I can add something new, I've decided to try and avoid echoing someone else's style or content. Occasionally the odd coincidence is bound to happen, but I'm finding it a great challenge to try and stick to doing my own thing.


This may be my most ironic point yet, but bear with me... While there's nothing inherently wrong with blogging advice posts, I do think that following someone else's formula for my own online space is counterproductive. We're all different and our blogs should reflect that, and there is no right or perfect way to write a blog. I'm totally happy if this post reads as blog advice that you don't want to follow; if it at least gets you thinking about what defines your blogging approach then I am happy!


I genuinely live in fear of this blog reading as though it's been written by someone who's got herself 100% figured out. I like being able to show my vulnerable goofy old self on here and would rather remain the online equivalent of the class clown than try and present an unrecognisably polished version of my life. I commit to owning up to my booboos, even when I don't come off in the best light!


This one is a pledge that I'd love to make good on... Lately I've been feeling like tweeting and commenting with my blogger buds just isn't enough. I would really love a little circle of chums whom I could just give a call up whenever I want to talk about blogging or succulent purchasing. And to do that I need you! I have an idea for a series that would involve connecting with my blogging friends beyond likes and messages... If you fancy being a part of it, drop me an email at because I would love to hear from you.


My colleagues can attest to the fact I am obsessed with my working being about quality over quantity, even when it puts me in an unproductive limbo! But in all seriousness, the flurry of growth I have seen over the last couple of months hasn't been because I've been commenting mindlessly on a heap of posts, liking everything on Instagram and tweeting in a fury (all acts I was totally guilty of in my blogging infancy. I am not proud.) I've stopped adding my URL to comments, now written solely on friends' posts, and stick instead to making sure each post is as good as I can reasonably expect to make it. No fancy Pinterest strategies or tweet scheduling for me; I just want to feel people are following along for good posts they enjoy reading, that's all!

What do you guys think? Do you have any thoughts on how you approach blogging? Hit me up in the comments below!


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A More Mindful Approach To Technology

I feel pretty embarrassed to say that I have a mild to moderate addiction to technology... and that's not even an attempt to be melodramatic, it is just the simple truth. If there were any other habit I found myself doing a hundred times a day I would be rightly concerned... and yet social media abuse has almost become the norm; somehow walking round with my face buried in my phone is acceptable behaviour.

If you have a healthy relationship with your devices, 1) congrats, tell me all your advice and 2) this post will be of zero relevance to you. I compiled this with my fellow addicts firmly in mind!

These are the ways I found that make life easier for myself and in some of the examples I list below, you'll see I'm fighting fire with fire. Technology is, at the end of the day, a tool and hopefully this post is proof that it can do both good and as well as the harm...

On the computer...

Find yourself opening a tab that directs to a home page or site that makes you forget why you opened the tab in the first place? Make every tab open onto a blank page. I'm even considering getting rid of my favourites bar; I know they're my favourites, so it's unlikely I will forget them!

Clean up your desktop. Remove any shortcuts that are totally unnecessary - while you're at it, make sure your folders are organised and up to date!

Choose a motivational background. For added effect, have a few that your computer can automatically alternate between, to ensure your brain doesn't switch off from the message.

On your phone...

Don't have anything fun on your home screen - our brains are both very visual and very easy to influence, so sticking Facebook on your home screen makes it all the easier to head to the app and get lost browsing. Don't even give your brain the opportunity.

Switch off your notifications. The same principle as the above, this will make checking your phone a deliberate act, rather than leaving you a slave to the ding.

Delete apps you do not need. I don't have Facebook or Pinterest on my phone because I never use them productively.

Download Checky. Made by, this little app just tells you at 12pm how many times you unlocked your phone the day before. I clock in at 20 on a good day and 50 on a very very bad one... if you guys use it, please let me know what your score is!

Try Self Control apps. I have one on my phone and my computer too; these are apps that allow you to select sites or other applications you want to be blocked from (or the only ones you are allowed to use) for a set period of time. Useful for breaking the habit of picking my phone up every two seconds!

Get an old school phone. What I would do if Instagram had a desktop uploader!

"Put down that bloody phone so you can gaze into my beautiful eyes"

On any device...

Try a blue light filter. For Mac users, F.lux will slowly fade in each evening and flood your screen yellow, to mimic a sunset while serving as a pretty hefty reminder that you should probably just turn your computer off and get in bed. There are also apps on your smartphone that can be switched on and off, helping you sleep better.

Clean your device. It may shock you to see how grubby things have become through heavy use!

Have digital switch off days. Hard to do but so worthwhile! The internet will cope perfectly fine in your absence. I make a particular point to do this for big days - leaving my phone off at Christmas was the best idea I had all of last year!

And most important of all:

Accept that this is just one side of the coin...

As this beautiful podcast episode highlights, mindfulness is only the start of the journey. Humans are equipped with both a head and a heart and I'm aware that to really make a difference, I need to recognise that a mindful approach will not get me all the way. Am I using technology and social media as a means to escape? Is it a replacement for connections in the real world that need some nourishment? These are the question I am trying to get to the bottom of at the moment.

I hope this post gets you thinking - and I would so love to hear how you feel about our relationship with social media and technology! Do you have any advice on the subject?


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Why I Love & Hate Instagram

I started using Instagram regularly just over a year ago and it's been quite the emotional journey. (I kid you not.) In all honesty, I still have yet to feel I have my style down... I flit from filter to filter and am no better at creating an "aesthetic" than I am at creating the perfect macaron au pistache...

But these musings are very much by the by; my purpose today is to break down my love-hate relationship with our old pal Insta and offer some suggestions as to why it leaves me so conflicted. Shall we?

A photo posted by Anna (@byhermirror) on

Why I love Instagram

It forces me to take more photos

... and share them, something I find easier said than done! We all know that feeling of gliding through your feed to find snaps from a highlight; before writing this, I have just had to flit through a load of pictures from last summer and they've left me unspeakably nostalgic. There's something nice about seeing your memories slid neatly into a series of 1:1 frames.

I think more about the little moments

Admiring the delicious smoothies I can't stop making. Capturing a landscape from a walk with my mum. Taking a cheeky snap on a day spent with my favourites. In some ways, Instagram makes me take notice, feel gratitude.

It has brought me friendship

There are a number of people I only know through Instagram, something that makes me feel weird and excited at the same time. It's been so nice finding like minded people, who appreciate the simple beauty of a flat white (but you'll never find me actually drinking one. Coffee is not my bud.)

A photo posted by Anna (@byhermirror) on


It makes me shallow

Yes, my cactus in a teacup is adorable. But it's not actually contributing to my happiness, no matter what I tell myself. I also end up pining over other people's feeds, even though the odds of us all having these printed and stuck to our tombstones will (hopefully) remain slim. A picture is just a picture, and no amount of framing, editing or hashtagging will actually make me happy.

I am boring to be around as a result

"Hang on... Just taking one for the Insta." Yup. That's me, all year long.

I disconnect from the present

All that time spent liking and agonising over filters is the time I could spend in the real world, with people that I care about. I don't know how many hours I've spent on Instagram and I really don't want to know as it would probably make me have a breakdown. Stopping to take photos means stopping and stepping out of the moments that make me happiest.

I'm seriously considering returning with a post on how I manage my relationship with social media as by and large, I think I'm doing a lot better! What do you guys think of Instagram? Have you been bitten too?