Chris Montague Photography

‘In photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary’ – David Bailey

One of the best things about writing a blog, aside from it feeding my narcissistic need to be liked, is when you get to join forces with your mates when your individual passions collide.

Steph is one of my oldest friends from school (and by that I mean I’ve known her the longest). She met the lovely Chris in 2012, they married in 2016 and since then the Montague’s as a brand have become two of our best friends. It’s always a relief when your better halves get along however it’s amazing (and very rare) that they get along so well that you sometimes forgot how or where the original links began. We’ve all welcomed each other into our own individual friendship groups and as such spend a lot of time in the pub together!


Despite Chris being hugely successful in his day job (building clouds – actual clouds I like to believe, there’s big business for them in the north east) he’s also a keen photographer and has recently started going semi pro. I’d been wanting for a while to get some more professional pictures on my blog as the random instagram selfies of my wonky duck face weren’t cutting the mustard anymore. So I asked Chris is he would mind taking a few natural pics of me to make me look a bit more polished. As soon as I suggested meeting one Saturday afternoon in a pub with a large bay window he was there setting up his tripod before you could say David Bailey. After all pictures always look more realistic when the subject is in their natural habitat.

Despite it all feeling a bit awkward to start with, not that I’ve ever been shy around a camera of course but when you know someone’s taking your picture it’s hard not to pose or look straight at them, I’ve watched enough ANTM to know how to smize and find my light. But as the wine flowed and Steph and I got right into gossipland I forgot he was there and he ended up taking loads of pics as we all chatted away.

I concede that he didn’t have the easiest of subjects, an oil painting i’m not however I was really pleased with what he took, they were so natural and unposed and even after he kindy touched up a few of my faves, the touch ups were very subtle so I don’t feel like I’ve been airbrushed to within an inch of my life. I still look like me. Like picking the most flattering instagram filter!

Here are my 3 favourites:

Looks like I was born with that glass of wine in my hand doesn’t it?

If you’re interested in working with Chris for your wedding, family shoot or even some headshots of your own you find find out more about him and his work here!

How different do you look after 3 glasses of wine?

‘Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy’ – Benjamin Franklin

One of my favourite quotes is that alcohol is what makes the good times better and the bad times bearable. If I knew who first said it I would have it at the leading quote to all my wine related posts because I think it’s so true. And I’ve never been shy in admitting that I love a bottle of wine or two.

When I was idly trawling through Stumbleupon one Sunday afternoon (probably hungover from the previous nights wine) I came across an article about Brazilian photographer Marcos Alberti who did a series of photos of his friends after they’d drank 1, 2 and 3 glasses of wine and the results were fascinating.

I mean, there was an element of ‘people look more relaxed after a couple of glasses of wine’ shocker. However what I did find fascinating was the really subtle differences in some of the subjects faces. Some people were noticeably more relaxed, they tied their hair back or removed items of clothing. There was definitely caution to the wind being thrown. However what amazing was the people who were so obviously trying not to look any different, yet their faces told a completely different story. In the first picture, where people were fatigued and stressed by the end of the working day, there was a vulnerability and dare I say sadness in some of the peoples eyes. Yet after a couple of glasses of wine the smile was reaching their eyes again and they looked 100% more relaxed.


Some being me, I thought I would completely steal this idea, take my Samsung Galaxy S6 and see how different me and all my friends look after 3 glasses of wine. I’m unclear as to whether Marcos’ subjects knew what the purpose of the photo session was for, however my lasses knew from the start. It would have been weird making them pose up against my living room wall without telling them what was going on, so I’m not sure if that’s skewed the results slightly. There were a few ground rules to this experiment though; we all drank the same drinks, and we used Prosecco instead of wine (carefully measured out into 125ml glasses).

Whilst the results may not be surprising, they are bloody funny!











All we seem to hear these days is how bad alcohol is for you, and yes of course if we all lived macrobiotic, wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, taste free, fun free diets I’m sure we’d all be very virtuous and live to 150 but where would the fun in that be? While this experiment probably won’t win me any Nobel prizes (mainly because I didn’t think of it) it was still great fun to do and a brilliant excuse to get the lasses round, drink a shed load of wine and dance around my living room to boyband videos after a long working week – like we needed an excuse!

Oh, and the outtakes are pretty funny too:



The Perfect Mother’s Day Present from Mandy Charlton

‘In our house, Mother’s Day is every day. Father’s Day, too. In our house, parents count. They do important work and that work matters. One day just doesn’t cut for us’ – Margaret Heffernan

I know a lot of people poo-poo the idea of ‘hallmark holidays’ like Valentines Day or Mother’s/Father’s Day, and they’re right, you should tell the people you love how much they mean to you every day, but we don’t do we? Because life gets in the way or we just assume they already know. So I think there’s no harm in having a day to remind you to be thankful for though special people in your life.

This time next week is Mother’s Day and the problem for me has always been what to get as a present. Quite simply, what do you get the woman who has everything?

I don’t know about you but we’re the type of family that loves taking a photo (the women of the family are particular camera hams), the problem is, most of the pictures we take together are either selfies, or someone is missing because they’re the ones taking the picture. So for my mum’s 60th Birthday in January we decided to ask my blogging friend and all round amazing human Mandy to take a few snaps of us altogether to commemorate such a special birthday and have some nice shots to go on the mantelpiece.

The original plan was to all go down to Saltwell Park and get photographed frolicking among the trees and the leaves but the good old North East weather had other ideas and the rain, sleet and snow meant that we had to relocate to the warmth and dryness of our conservatory.

The whole experience was, above everything else great fun. It can sometimes feel a bit awkward or forced having your picture taken by a professional, and the fact we’d had to relocate home did mean the pictures would end up being a tad formal but Mandy was great fun and made us all feel, well at home really. She worked with us to get the shots we wanted as well as suggesting things we wouldn’t have thought of, like getting pictures with prosecco and the Krispy Kreme donuts involved – which sums our family up perfectly really!

In the short space of just over an hour Mandy had gotten some brilliant shots, I suppose it helps when she has such a good looking family to work with, fnar fnar! I love that we got good pics with every combination of family relation. The only shame was that my nephew Robin wasn’t able to come as he was had to stay at uni that weekend – we’ll have to arrange something again in the summer when he’s home. As the present was for mum it was most important that she got in every picture, and Mandy made her feel like the star of the show throughout.


We even managed to get out in the garden for 10 minutes in between snow showers to get some lovely couples shots:


Mum really loved the whole experience and we now have some lovely current pictures that can proudly put on display rather than old school pictures or selfies! She said of the experience:

It was something very different and a lovely surprise.  Mandy made us all feel very comfortable and at ease (despite a last minute change of venue because of the weather), and this is reflected in the quality of the photos.  A lovely family reminder of a milestone birthday.

So if you’re looking for something different for your mum this Mother’s Day, I can’t recommend Mandy highly enough. After all, if she can make me look thin and pretty, she’s nothing short of a modern miracle worker – it will be money well spent I promise 😉

Check out more of her work at Mandy Charlton Photography or follow her on social media here:

Facebook: Mandy Charlton Photography
Twitter: @MandyCharlton