Mailley Family at the castle

Lifestyle Family Photography


Hadleigh Castle

There are so many amazing locations that I get introduced to all the time, but I am nearly ashamed to say that this was my first visit to Hadleigh Castle (living in Leigh for nearly 9 years) here I said it! 

This is Clare’s family. I know Clare for over 7 years and she is the kind of friend who I don’t need to see in ages but time means nothing and we just pick where we left of, you know the one!

So, there were no plans for the session, just intention to show up. There was no preferred location so we picked one between our houses; no preferred activity so we took kite; no ideas or expectations of the final images – ‘just some of us together, you know anyway’, so we did just that! We run around the tower, blew some huge bubbles, wished we dressed warmer as it was cool and really windy (maybe too windy for kiting) and in the end realized that running after a kite wasn't too bad of an activity after all! Happy kids!

An hour went in blink of an eye, we laughed, we chatted, felt all the feelings, it’s not always easy to get in a flow of family fun; there are practicalities, reservation, some awkward moments, obvs kids involved; but it felt so good to let go of the final result, of having no ideas, of what you may have seen in your friends houses and solely concentrate on you and your family, it may surprise you how wonderful and unique you are in your own way! I love the way the story is told through their pictures, the connection between them and how well Darren embraced his pictures taken ;) Love you millions xxx 


Link to my lifestyle package is here or contact me for details! Look forward hearing from you!

Ember & Lyra - mini shoot

Mini children's photoshoot

Portraiture | Outdoor photography

Leigh on Sea, Essex

So even though 1pm is not the ideal time for outdoor photoshoot, especially when sun is out, there are options and even one tree can offer enough shade to do some lovely shots and add depth with backlit hair.

The time picked turned out to be not so ideal but Charlie, old and friendly Labrador passing on his daily walk, saved the day and these two blue-eyed beauties lit up and here is the result :) Thank you Charlie! xx

My mini shoots are on offer through August.

  • half an hour photoshoot (in my home studio or outdoors)

  • 5 digital images in colour and B/W included

  • any age

  • pet portrait or shared moments are perfect for this (ie breastfeeding...)

  • £95

  • for any additional image it's £15

Message me if you have any questions! or through my contact form here.

Quinn's (pan)cake smash on the beach

Lifestyle Cake smash

Children's photography celebrating their milestone. 

Thorpe Bay beach in Southend, Essex

Cake smashes are really popular way to celebrate your child's birthday or milestones for that matter. All you need is their fav food, (can be anything, check out Rory's alternative smash), find location (whether it's studio or location) and your baby obvs!  Here is the reason I offer also something different than traditional cake smashes. 

Quinn likes pancakes, blueberries, blowing candles (it was so windy on the beach that we had to amend and have sparkles instead), water, snails & dinosaurs (i preferred dinos) plus one of his first words was RAAHH and us - the perfect mix for his celebration shoot right there!

Firstly I must say it didn’t go to initial plan, we had to postpone for a week because the forecast was rain and once I plant a seed in my head and all that it had to happen the way I intended!

It was 5pm before we set off to the beach. I wanted to catch the sun as low as possible (golden hour would be perfect which is an hour before sunset) but being conscious of kid’s bedtime I had to compromise a little.

It was freezing cold even though you would never say from the pictures and I was totally underdressed, as it felt so hot in our garden ! Im really surprised I got sharp images, you could hear my jaws rattling!

Anyway, we found a spot, borrowed someone’s lovely beach hut stairs (Thank you!), we also had some audience and they even joined us from nearby hut in clapping after singing Happy birthday song. It was fun, especially lighting the sparkles in blowing wind! It's the moment you have to be there to laugh!

After stuffing our faces with pancakes drained in maple syrup, we stayed for a bit to play, finding different seashells, throwing stones back to the sea, run with windmill (even though no running was required!), the usual stuff, but the most important thing was, that we all had such amazing time, and you could say it looks just like a normal day on the beach but we don't have many days like this - all of us together, at the moment. My husband is working hard on his business and I run the house, children and my business. And even though we have odd hour here and there, it never feels enough to satisfy everyone so having TODAY, getting together to celebrate,  firmly in our memory, was the essence of the shoot for me! And 2nd birthday was good enough reason to drag everyone out on a Sunday evening to sing Happy Birthday!

Quinny, you are so amazingly loving, confident in your own way, gentle but funny and full of laughter. We all love you! Happy 2nd Birthday xxx

If you would like more information on Cake Smashes or Lifestyle packages, click on the links! Look forward hearing from you!

Love, Petra

Bluebells shoot with Ava

Children photography

This was a morning mini photoshoot and the sun usually just about peeps through on one side of our garden - just the perfect spot to get the sun highlighting her amazingly crazy curly hair. 

Photographing children at this age (nearly 2) is so lovely! It could be challenging at times, but who can resist those cherub like faces!

Ava was a bit unsure at the beginning (there is lots of distractions = TOYS going on in our garden) however with help of mummy, windmill and bubbles we managed to take some lovely photos in the middle of my bluebell patch amongst other flowers. 

If you would like to take advantage of this lovely period in spring but don't want to walk around in woods for hours, get in touch but be quick as I am not really sure how long they will last!

Some info: 

  • half an hour photoshoot

  • 5 digital images included

  • location: my garden in Leigh

  • £49


Bluebells photography in my garden

I felt very lucky to be moving into a property with such well-established garden! When some flowers are on their way out, there is sure to be another rushing through already.

I am quite certain that over past 9 years I have done some damage to the flow but luckily there is still some resemblance of its maturity.

Bluebells must spread easily as I have never realised we have so many (in relatively small space!). I enjoy gardening but I am pretty much winging it (pruning especially), yet they come again and again so must be doing something right there!

Sometimes I take my little client for some outdoors shots in our garden and I thought there is no better time than when ever so popular bluebells are out, hence my Bluebells mini shoots. I actually really enjoy minis, they are short – especially good for littlens, there is just enough selection of images to have a variety and they are a fraction of a price of proper photoshoot.

Obviously I don’t have a field full of flowers, it’s slightly restricted on where we can position ourselves, depending on where the sun is at that moment but luckily they grow on both sides of garden amongst other plants and flowers, so there is always way!

What’s included?

·      half an hour photoshoot

·      location: my garden

·      5 digital images

·      £49


For availability please message me on on my insta or FB page.

Here are few shots of my daughter who usually doesn’t need an excuse to wear a party dress.

Children photography - Lyra

I love photographing sitters! Not moving yet and they usually give away smiles easily!

But it's even lovelier when you know them from newborn sessions for the next stage!

Lyra is 5 months here and even though she didn't smile as much as she usually does, we got some lovely playful shots and just look at those gorgeous eyes!

For more info about childrens photoshoot click here or message me your requirements through contact form.

You can see her newborn photoshoot here.


Evie & Isla ~ Fine Art Children Portrait

Finished gallery for Evie & Isla.

They were ace! I know Isla since she was teeny tiny and Evie 2! It was really relaxed and comfortable, they were excited and didn't mind changing into different outfits and their old show costumes! I couldn't have asked for better models to see if my Fine Art Portraits ever make it to my packages. 

It was a great experience! I have learnt a lot, remembered some forgotten stuff from job in the studio setting, proved that studio lighting can be successfully replaced with natural light and of course the famous flowery curtains which we inherited with our house are "invaluable" (replaceable but why bother if they do the job), that all I really need is a camera, lens (though I still want to upgrade for better one) and a VISION! I am sure the portraits will evolve with every client and some will be more dark, sophisticated and some will by light and airy and we may even venture outside (weather permitted) but one is for sure, I feel really exciting about this <3

For more information about Fine Art photography please message me on 

Oscar - Fine Art Children Portrait

This Fine Art photoshoot took place in my home based studio in Leigh on Sea.

It was rainy day and not ideal for natural light photography but we managed to crack some great portraits for Oscar. He was great to photograph!

For more information on Fine Art portraits please message me here or email

A girl and The Unicorn

This outdoor photoshoot was really for me but Ivy had time of her life meeting a unicorn...

All this started when my 4 year old daughter decided to cut her hair and we promptly decided that we chop her long ponytail only if it fits the criteria and can be donated to lovely charity The Little Princess Trust (we set up Just giving page to raise some funds and we got unbelievable £150 so far, so thank you to all for the love and support). 

The time we set was half term and as I am in the process (for a year already - it's practically a joke now) of making our bare wall in living room more visually pleasing, I decided a lovely portrait of Ivy with her still long hair would be a nice gift to her as well as a lovely keepsake for us! I had few ideas but nothing really exciting until my dear friend told me about this company who hires a unicorn. Well that must be it, right? So I promptly message them following early morning if they actually have any availability (half term, week of notice) before I got too excited and after getting everyone on board (car, childcare) we had a date and time set! Forecast was very promising - sunny, 18C but... wasnt sunny - far from, it was raining the whole day so my enthusiasm sunk too, but kept it really upbeat for Ivy. See, I was thinking as a photographer, not as a mother here which I realized few days after. Anyway, Ivy had an AMAZING time! She never sat on a horse really and is quite wary with animals as such, but OMG! she surprised me big time! I was so proud of her, not being beaten by the rain, walking around stables looking for good location and waiting for her turn to see TITAN. Well, I must say this horse was just gorgeous! If I remember well, he is 8 and comes from Spain. He lives in Epping now for 2 years now and his owner Amy from Essex Unicorn Hire was so kind to let us come at such short notice! He really liked his horse biscuits which Ivy was generously feeding him with and in the end he was munching on the apples and carrots, we brought for him. I am sure it wasn't the last time we saw him either!

Special thanks needs to go to a lovely owner of Rockamilly for lending us her beautiful skirt. Her shop is full of gorgeous things and Ivy has already eyed her next pair of unicorn trainers!

Thank you to my friends Sarah and Keri who made it all so much more bearable looking after our 2 boys whilst the girls went for a day out and feeding them as we got stuck in bad traffic on the way home and also to my lovely friend Gina for lending me her camera. The pictures are far from what I had in mind, the sky was grey and light was dull, so the quality isn't perfect BUT for once I would say - something is better than nothing and if nothing else, Ivy will always have her special reminder when she rode a unicorn <3 


Taking action shots doesn't have to be impossible, here is how...

Action shots

We’ve all been there! Blurred that no sharpen tool in postproduction would help. Kiddies were having fun in the pool (for once not screaming at each other) and little ones were sleeping so I decided to get some shots ofthem jumping in the pool and splashing water.

It didn’t take long, perhaps 10 minutes, just enough to take few extra photos just in case I didn’t get it right and short enough before it could turn into a competition lol!

Here are just few quick tips on how to make the most of your camera for moving subject:

If you are taking action shots, the most important thing is to have your shutter speed fast enough to freeze a moment! You can either freeze the entire photo (subject and splashing water or child on the bike) or just your subject (leaving the water moving or a child on a bike with blurred out background). The latter is more technical and if you would like to know more please comment below and I will do another blog on this subject going in more details on camera settings.

Depending on camera we use – nowadays I guess we use smartphones on day to day basis capturing moments around us and to capture moving subjects (if close enough) I would try to use flash especially in sunny weather as it will also fill in the shadows on their faces, especially when is around middle of the day when the sun is high (you need to switch flash on manually as if the settings are set on Auto, when camera doesn’t need the “extra” light, flash wont fire off automatically). 

If your subject is not so close or you want to capture bit of surrounding too, there is no benefit of flash as it wont reach far enough to freeze the movement, don’t let the phone camera choose the focus point but select the focus and exposure yourself. To do so,  tap the screen where you want to focus on (your subject), adjust exposure by pushing the “sun” which will appear on the side, slide up or down, depending whether you want your image lighter or darker and hold on your focal point until you see AE/AF lock on top of your screen to lock focus and exposure. 

For compact cameras I would advise to switch the settings to Shutter priority or 'Action' where the camera is set for moving subject and the shutter speed is set faster.

For DSLR users there are 2 options: either set your camera for Shutter Speed priority and set it to around 1/1000 or faster depending how fast your subject/object is OR go manual settings and by setting your Aperture/Shutter speed and ISO for optimum exposure create the results you set to do. Just for information, most of the shots below were shot at F4.5, 1/640 s and 200 ISO. I could have gone faster on shutter I guess but the result is pretty good. There is always next time ;)

Whatever the camera, whether it’s smartphone, compact or DSLR, there are few things to remember when shooting action shots to get the best results:

1.     Frame – think of the final picture! Your subject will stand out from the background if you choose “cleaner” background without too much distraction.

2.     Light – these shots below are shot with DSLR against the light because if I shot from the other side, my subjects would have sun in their eyes and most probably squinting. Also sun behind my subject means that they appear more 3D and pop out from the background as the sun is shining back at them. Also it is much easier to take action shots outside than indoors, the lack of light compensates the shutter speed (technically speaking, your camera lens needs to be open for longer – slower shutter speed, for enough light to come in).

3.     Get closer – zoom or too drastic post cropping will worsen quality of the image so just few steps closer to your subject and turning your camera/phone different way (portrait or landscape) can make a massive difference.

4.     Patience and prediction – it may be that you take quite few photos before you get what you set out to capture but be patient (as long as your subject is willing). You can also predict what is likely to happen next (child on bike turning, jumping, sliding etc.) so lock your focus and fire at the right moment.

5.     Download an app – there are quite few apps that take the pressure of when capturing action, some will take a video and you can choose the best shot within, some will take few shots within a second so you can choose the right one. Turbo Camera, (i)Freeze Frame HD, Action Snap, Morense… just to name but few.

Hopefully these are helpful and next time you shoot your children jumping in puddles, you can implement and take a snapshot worth keeping :)

If you would like to share some action, I would love to see and as usual any comments/feedback welcome!

#photographybypetra #actionphotography #children #jumpinginthepool