I'd been meaning to write the whole birth story... well, since Frank arrived.. eight months ago.. (geeeeez is he that old already!?!?) but I knew I had to be in the right frame of mind to actually write something coherent and if I'm honest.. being new parents and not really having a maternity leave as such.. it's been pretty busy and as most new Mum's will testify.. my brain is currently mush.  So here goes.. 

Firstly.. I want to say that I had an overwhelmingly positive birth experience.  I might even want to go as far as to say I had a REALLY good time.. and having heard quite a few birth experiences I feel like you don't always hear too many positive ones so I guess that's why I'm pretty happy to share my experience.

I think the hardest part for me was before the whole labour thing even started as we went two weeks over our due date.  14 slooooooooow groundhog day days.  It was the middle of January.. it was cold, dark, we couldn't really go too far.. and although, physically I felt pretty ok.. waiting, waiting and more waiting is a test of anyone's patience.  We got asked every single day if anything was happening.. every night I would go to sleep thinking 'tonight will be the night'.. but we tried our best to just rest and enjoy the time together and actually, looking back.. those two weeks were when we basically built our new website so it was actually a complete godsend because I'm not sure how much of it would have been made once Frank arrived.  

There was one thing tho that I couldn't cope with AT ALL.. and that was losing my place in the queue.  You see a lot of photographers try to have their babies in the quieter part of the year so, no exaggeration, we knew around 15 friends, all due around the same time as us.. some just before.. some a little after.. some a month or so after.. and NO JOKE.. EVERYONE had their baby before us.  Every time I looked at facebook there would be another announcement.. another 'Introducing Betty, Dylan, Ella..'.. I would wake up in the middle of the night, take a quick glance at my phone.. ANOTHER BABY.. ARE YOU ACTUALLY KIDDING ME!?! Babies that were due way after us were sneaking right in whilst we weren't looking and I just couldn't cope with it.  I think the fact that they were out the other side.. they'd done it.. labour was over.. I felt like I was being bumped out of the queue.. it was MY TURN.. I felt very much like I was being left behind at the bottom of a very large mountain (that I was going to have to climb) and by the end of it I was having uncontrollable meltdowns with every new announcement.

But Frank was definitely pretty happy where he was so after around 10 days overdue (and after a non successful sweep) we were booked in for an induction on day 14.  I remember neither of us really asking too much about what actually happens when you're induced so although we had a vague idea we very much got ready that morning and headed to the hospital kinda in the same way we would head to just go get some brunch.  To be honest I think the whole thing was so surreal that we just didn't really believe it was actually happening.. I also distinctively remembering getting to the hospital, getting settled on the ward and turning to Pete and genuinely asking him 'What the fuck are we doing????'.. the whole thing felt a weird mix of 'overwhelming HUGE life step' and 'What are we doing here again?'... and maybe that is actually the best way to take it all in.. I dunno..

So.. our birth plan. Hmmmm.. it was kinda basic.  We didn't really have any major 'wants'.. I quite fancied possibly getting in water if the room was free but overall we had no real specifics on what we wanted or didn't want.  Through the pregnancy we'd been to a group Hypnobirthing session and also had a private session too so I liked the idea of concentrating on relaxing.. and visualising etc.. but in a weird way I kinda felt like I trusted my body and trusted that I would do what was best for me and Frank at the time. I felt quite happy to go with the flow.

So at around lunchtime they give me a pessary and after a while I was getting mild twinges (especially if I walked up and down the ward) but they seemed to stop and start.  The pessary ended up falling out that evening but at around midnight my waters broke.  It's funny.. you always think your waters breaking is all action stations go but it was pretty calm and still.. and nobody seemed too bothered to do anything quickly so I was left to try and get some sleep overnight... which if anyone knows me.. I have absolutely no problems with.  I will sleep anywhere, in any situation.. waters or no waters.. 

The next morning, I was woken and taken down to the labour ward.  Pete had gone home the night before so they called him to come back in and I was hooked up to the hormone drip and monitor.  They explained that they were wanting so many contractions in 10 minutes and would gradually up the dose (so the contractions would gradually get more intense).. and every four hours they would check to see how dilated I was.  So for the next twelve hours I was mainly bouncing on a birth ball.. eating ice lollies and watching a Beatles documentary with Pete and our Midwife.  We were chatting, giggling.. and as the time went on the contractions gradually got more intense and would come every few minutes.. but they were still manageable and didn't last long at all.  After the first 4 hours I was checked and was literally at 2cm dilated so we were left to do another 4 hours.. cue more bouncing.. more ice lollies.. and still I wasn't too uncomfortable.  By the next check I'd still only reached around 3cm so they said that he would give me one more four hour block but he wanted to see a lot more progress at the next check.  This next four hours the contractions definitely became more uncomfortable where I was having to concentrate more through each one.  I remember our midwife kept offering me gas and air and I kept saying 'no I'm fine'.. but it was purely because up until this point I didn't know what level my contractions were currently at.. compared with how bad they could/would be getting.  It was a bit like 'Who wants to be a millionaire'.. I didn't want to use one of my lifelines too early!  In the end I took her up on the offer and spent the last few hours feeling just a little bit tipsy..

By the end of 12 hours the Doctor explained that I was still only at 4cm and that he really had wanted me to have made more progress by now... and that his opinion would be to have a Csection.  I remember him approaching the subject as if he wasn't sure how I'd react.. as I know for many women this is pretty devastating as they would want a more natural birth.. (and the fact that they'd just been through 12 hours of labour).. but you know what.. I didn't care how this little man arrived.. so I gave my consent (I might have even fist bumped him).. and within minutes I was being wheeled in to the operating theatre..

Now I think we must have won the lottery with the team that was waiting for us because we pretty much entered the happiest room I've ever been in.  Everyone in the room was smiling and chatting about their favourite holiday destinations.. me and Pete told them all about our recent travels and I remember quite a few times telling a number of them that I loved them.. and by this point I'm sure the gas and air had worn off so this was 100% ligit affection.  I felt super safe and happy.  The Doctor asked Pete to choose an album to put on and I lay there looking at the huge light above me, ;istening to the Garden State album.. thinking that this feels like a scene from the film.. and I really love that film.. (see.. super happy).  I was given an epidural.. and within minutes they were telling Pete to grab his camera and over the top of the little curtain Frank appeared.  With his little sad face, bottom lip out.. (he was definitely pretty comfy where he was) and everyone was smiling, telling us how much he weighed etc.  They popped a little tiny knitted hat on him and placed him right under my nose so I could see him properly.. the Anaesthetist even took Pete's camera and took some photos of all three of us.  It all just felt so surreal.

We got taken to another room.. Pete took care of Frank's first nappy, I was given tea and toast (pretty much the best tea and toast of my life).. and we were then taken up to the ward where we had our first precious minutes with Frank.. all together.  Looking back now.. this bit for me is the most blurred as Pete had to go home pretty much straight away and I was left on the ward on my own.. not really being able to move at all.. with this little person snoozing on my chest...

...now a Mum.

Changed forever..



Three months of getting to know you wee lad.

We always say you're 'cartoon cute' as if you should be the little boy in some animation.. the biggest, deepest eyes and the cutest button nose. You have more facial expressions than I knew was possible.. you can definitely beat your Dad in any fart competition and your spontaneous beaming smile lights up both mine and your Dad's world.

We love you so much Frank.. thank you for bringing absolute magic in to our lives.



I wanted to write a post about how I felt being pregnant but it can be quite tricky talking about things like this...

Pregnancy for me was pretty much one of the most confusing periods of my life. Having kids was always something that we knew we always wanted.. but when it actually becomes a reality (even when it's planned).. it's pretty huge.. and pretty overwhelming.  It's really interesting, now that Frank is here, now that I'm not pregnant any more, now that I am actually a Mum.. to look back and try and understand how I felt...

Firstly, we decided to not announce it.  For someone who is pretty open with most things, who shares a lot of their life online.. when we found out we were pregnant.. I immediately didn't want to tell anyone.  I suddenly felt very exposed and very vulnerable.  I was trying to navigate how I felt about it all.. so I knew, that if I was having trouble answering my own questions.. it was going to be even tougher when it came to other people's.  So we kept it quiet.  Close family and a few friends knew but it felt like we created a bit of a safe bubble around us.. a space for us both to work stuff out.  And that's what I didn't expect.. to have to work stuff out.  I thought it was gonna be pretty straightforward.  We've always wanted kids.. so we're now happy to be having a kid.  But instead it felt a little uncomfortable.  I wasn't over the moon.. I felt awkward about it, unexcited, defensive..  I felt like I was fighting it.  I resisted talking about it.. was adamant I wasn't going to fit in to any pregnant/parent stereotype.. and wanted to run in the opposite direction at the hint of a "What you having/When you due/Are you excited?" type question.  Mainly because the person asking was always way more excited than I felt and it always felt slightly awkward when my answer was always a bit of an embarassed.. 'Yeah.. crazy innit'.

Reading that all back it sounds overwhelmingly negative.. which I want to point out, these were all feelings that I'm not ashamed to have felt and kinda think that they should be pretty normal feelings considering you're bringing an actual person in to the world.  It's a huge decision/change/responsibility so I feel pretty ok that it took me a while to adjust to the enormity of it all.  Don't get me wrong.. in our own way, and in our own time.. his first little outfits were bought, names were decided.. all the preparation tasks started to feel enjoyable instead of alien.  I began to feel proud of my bump and actually felt more confident in my own skin than I had done in years.  I would lay in the bath for hours, eyes closed waiting for a little elbow, a kick or a roll, enjoying our calm, private time.. just me and him.

The more my bump grew the more I was adjusting and feeling comfortable and both me and Pete would talk a lot about what we wanted for our little lad and what we wanted in the future for our little family we were making.  And we made peace with our seemingly blasé approach to the whole thing.  We both realised that we just weren't very good at getting excited about something until it's actually happening.  We just couldn't visualise him.. we couldn't physically feel the feelings we knew we were going to have once he arrived.. there was absolutely no way of truly practicing, preparing, experiencing any of it so anything beyond 'you will give birth to a baby' felt totally alien and totally ungraspable.  We were waiting for this huge change with no real idea what this huge change was going to be like.  We were doing all the normal 'pregnant' things.. midwife appointments, birth classes, pushchair buying, nursery painting but it still didn't feel totally real.. as if we were frauds and someone was going to pull us up on it any minute.  I even remember being in the hospital waiting to be induced and turning to Pete and saying "What the f%*k are we doing?!?!?"  It didn't even feel real then.

Having said all that I look back and feel that overall I still enjoyed being pregnant.  It may have been not what I expected but at the same time the fact that it is one of life's biggest steps.. I felt totally ok that it was kinda testing me.  But aside from the emotional side.. I found a completely new found respect for my body.  I enjoyed watching my body change.  I marvelled at what it was capable of.. how miraculous it actually is that it has everything it needs to grow an actual human. AN ACTUAL HUMAN.  I enjoyed the company of my bump.. of him.  I felt empowered and capable and as crazy as it sounds it kind of reminds you of the real, primal reason why we're all here.

So I guess I wanted to share how I felt because the one thing I have definitely noticed so far with the whole 'becoming a parent' journey is just how much guilt there is out there.  Guilt for feeling something, for not feeling something, for doing, for not doing.. it's seemingly endless and really sad as ultimately it adds unnecessary trauma that we all don't need.  Same with the whole labour and birth thing.. but I'm gonna save that for another post..



I've had a spring clean.. :)

As we've recently launched our new website I thought it might be about time to give my blog a lick of paint too.. :) I've had this blog now since 2009 and this little diary of mine has been with me.. through all the ups and the downs.  I loved being able to confide in it.. sharing my photography journey and more often, my personal journey and although I've gone through several blog droughts (including the whole of 2015).. it's SO nice to be able to look back and reminisce or cringe but mainly just look back fondly on all the adventures that me and Pete have had together.

I'm loving the new, stripped back look and am looking forward to sharing pretty much anything I fancy chatting about really.  This year, so far is all about new things.. we are a new little family with the arrival of Frank.. we launched our new website.. and we've recently moved in to a new house back up in Birmingham.  I'm also wanting to expand the photography this year with some personal projects which I'm literally chomping at the bit to start but having a 10 week old, I'm currently learning that some things might have to wait a wee bit.. or at least be able to be done during 'nap times'.

So I hope you like the new look and thanks for coming back to read my rambles.. :)



Not even sure I can do this post justice.

I'm a Mum.

Just writing that makes my eyes fill up with tears.

I read a quote the other day that said becoming a parent was like being born again.. and I totally get it.  This little person appears and your emotions are literally opened up.  You always thought that they were open.. you've always felt love and pain, joy, sadness.. but you now realise that it was literally the tip of the iceberg.. a slightly muffled version.. a protected version in some ways.  Looking back, in a way.. it felt so safe..

Bloody hell I'm a Mum.

I don't think I've ever felt more vulnerable and more bullet proof all at the same time..

Frank Smyth decided to take his own sweet time to join the party but me and his Dad are absolutely over the moon he's chosen us to hang out with..  Born on the 27th January 2016 at 22:23... all 8lbs 3 of pure chub and cuteness.  We're totally smitten..
Polaroid by Joanna Brown.



It's been that long since I've blogged that I actually forgot how to sign in.  November last year was my last post and for quite a while, if someone was to ask 'Why the silence?'.. I'm not sure if I could have articulated why.  Or maybe because there were too many reasons.

What I do know is that both me and Pete feel like lots of things have changed for us.  Funnily enough, I thought travelling would be the perfect opportunity to take some time and step away and try to figure some of it out.. and maybe there was just a tiny part of me that thought 6 months travelling the world would magically land all the answers I needed straight in to my lap.. and I guess, in a roundabout way it did.. it just wasn't the nicely 'tied up all in a bow' type answer that I was kind of hoping for..

I suppose the biggest thing for me is I started to ask myself the 'What's it all for?' question.. (yup.. I'm going deep).  Now in terms of our work this is something that me and Pete talk about A LOT.  Hmmm and this is where it gets tricky...

We were sharing our work, we were collecting 'likes' and 'followers', we were pushing to get bigger and better (even without realising it).. and if I'm totally honest.. I was feeling not good enough, I was competing, getting jealous, feeling inadequate, obsessive, worried.. I watched what was becoming popular.. a wave of 'curating your work and yourself'.. fitting in to a mould.. pushing yourself to the limit.. bigger.. better.. and it all felt just a bit too heavy.  It was making me sad.

And that question 'What is it all for?' just kept coming back.  Who were we trying to impress?.. who was it all for? Why do I feel the need to constantly share all this? Why is it important?  Now I'm saying this in bold.. this is MY thing.  My hang up.. and I needed to step away to try and attempt to work it all out.  I just wanted to go and live our life.. enjoy our wonderful friends.. enjoy our wonderful couples.. shoot their wonderful weddings.. give them their wedding images that they will keep forever and for that to be enough.  And we did just that.  We shot weddings, were super duper proud of what we created and we delivered them to our couples and their families.  .  We took away all the addictiveness, the instant gratification, all the praise and it became less about the 'right now'.. and much more about the legacy.  And more than ever it became about them and not about us.  We then hung out with our friends.. adventuring together, big hearty get together meals, plotting communes and ways to live more consciously.. and generally absorbing a heap of warm, fuzzy, inspirational and positive feelings along the way...

..and that's where we got stuck.  Because there are parts of being online that we love.  The way it has connected us to life long friends, how it's introduced us to so many like-minded, wonderful people.. how sharing who we are has meant that OUR couples have found us and peeps have felt drawn to our Welcome Home workshops which has then created such a wonderfully strong and supportive community..

All the good stuff is also there...

So.. although a lot of the stuff online was making me unhappy.. a big proportion of it was also enriching and inspiring us, introducing us to wonderful people and building a beautiful community..

When me and Pete talk about our life and our business we constantly talk about how we are deeply passionate about people. Our couples.  Our workshop attendees.  Our peers. Our friends.  We want everyone around us, everyone who we come in to contact with, to go away feeling happy, special, inspired, more in love, more excited, more confident.  We want to continually stop people's every day shit for a second and give them an opportunity to appreciate what or who they have around them and (as corny as it sounds) what they're capable of and that they are just wonderful exactly the way they are.  Call it a mini life manifesto if you like but we want to concentrate on that stuff.. and maybe that is just it.  The whole 'online' world began to feel too.. dare I say it.. too self promoting.. too crafted.. and we were constantly craving the opposite..

I guess what I'm saying is that I was trying to work out what I was comfortable with.  I just knew that I was having a hard time with the social media world that has created the need for constant recognition, for constant praise, constant 'Look what I'm doing/eating/wearing'.. LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE'... I just felt I wanted more from it.  More of the good stuff.  And that was the answer..

I want to go back to my early blogging days where I would just write.. write whatever the hell I wanted.. without any agenda, without thinking 'does it fit our brand'.. just being honest about how I feel about stuff and if that resonated with others in any way then that's what made me happy. I want to make the most of the community.  Rather than seeing it as a constant audience.. I want to collaborate and share... to use this incredible network of like minded peeps to do positive things.. to connect more..

So.. I'm going to be a bit kinder to myself. Remove the boundaries and just see where it goes.  It might mean I blog every day.. it might mean a post a month but it feels really good to give myself that freedom.. and I think that's exactly what all this is about..




I wasn't sure how much I was going to want to be blogging while we were on our travels and to be honest.. the past three weeks have gone past both incredibly quickly and super slow all at the same time.. so I thought I better write something down as I know I'm likely to forget some stuff if I don't.  The hard thing is is that I'm actually documenting quite a bit of our trip on various film camera which means getting the images back is a slightly slower process.. so forgive me if I write about stuff and then bombard you with some images a couple of weeks later.. :)

So I'm going to try and go back to the beginning... aka the run up to leaving the country for six months.  We knew it was going to be hectic but I don't think either of us realised just how much.  That last week we definitely packed in as much as we physically (and emotionally) could which included 3 shoots all in different parts of the country and a London wedding.. (and I was determined to finish all the editing before we got on that flight).  We also had to hand in all our year's accounts to our accountant (which meant, of course doing it all from scratch) and suddenly you realise you want to see people and they want to see you before you head off.  We somehow managed to tick off everything on our to do list, cuddled and kissed Maximo a gizillion times (I balled it)..(don't worry he's staying with my Mamma) and put pretty much everything we owned in to two suitcases and two camera cases and got on our flight to New Zealand. 

If you regularly read the blog then you might know that me and Pete came to New Zealand last year to speak at A Bit More Soul and we literally couldn't believe it when Rachael asked us if we'd like to come back and speak again at the next one.  We ADORE this retreat.  It's taught us so much and was an integral part of why we decided to put the wheels in motion last year and plan to down tools (well, sell our house) and go travelling.  The space it gives, the courage it stirs, the connections we've made.. it's truly the most inspiring environment with just a really genuine and honest group of peeps.  Me and Pete constantly bang on about how similar A Bit More Soul is to Welcome Home... and it's true.. it just seems to attract good eggs... good, creative, encouraging, funny, open, brave, inquisitive, kind folk.. and this year was no exception.  Now, last year I was so busy being ridiculously nervous about the whole speaking malarky that I came home and was kinda disappointed that I hadn't taken more photos.. so I promised myself that I would take more this year.. well.. I totally failed.  And you know why?  BECAUSE I WAS HAVING WAY TOO MUCH FUN.  I was just totally engrossed.  Listening to the other speakers.. chatting with the attendees.. talking a walk on the beach.. it was bloody ace and just too good to miss a second.  SO here's a few photos over the 3 days..

I've also had a few people on instagram or fb seeing some of our photos and asking what A Bit More Soul actually is.. as all they see is us saying how incredible everything and everyone is all the time.. ;)  So I thought I'd try and explain it a little bit....

A Bit More Soul is a 3 and a half day retreat.. mainly for photographers (but any creative would totally fit).  There's 8 different speakers spread out over the 3 days (which me and Pete are one of) with a couple of other activities in-between (this year we all headed down to the beach and I totally saw a seal sunbathing).  We all eat together.. we shoot, talk, dance and just soak up some really inspirational, thought provoking stuff from each other.  But the best thing about it is that we see everyone just being their honest selves.  We all probably arrive at these things.. or anything for that matter with a preconception of what is expected from us.. how we should behave.. what we can't admit to.. what we have to be good at.  A Bit More Soul just ignores all that bullshit and just lets everyone be them.. and chest bumps them for it.  And me and Pete are ALL over that.  Just a little side note.. the one thing we definitely did notice this year was the huge spike in the amount of foul language coming from the attendees having spent just a small amount of time with us foul-mouthed Brits.

Once again every talk was super inspiring and although none of us speakers check in with each other on what each of us are going to talk about.. each talk is so individual but at the same time manages to carry common threads.. consistently confirming and reaffirming.  This year our speaker family grew a little and we also had a couple of non-photographers too.. so we wanted to personally say a huge thank you to Joel McKerrow (and his wife Heidi and his awesome kid Aidan), Si and Sophie from Bayly & Moore, Fiona Anderson, Jake Thomas, Danelle Bohane, David from One Girl and Oli Sansom for being the most wonderful friends and constantly keeping us inspired and creative and hungry and grateful and connected.. :)

We also need to mention the awesome Jase Blair and Mike Hill for being bloody incredible all week and possibly the biggest thank you is to Rachael Brown and Emily Adamson for imagining and creating and managing the whole god damn thing.  What a bloody awesome achievement ladies.

Also a huge thank you to all the attendees that came and joined us.. the night at the Courtyard Cafe, sharing all our connection stories was one of our absolute highlights.. it was just really lovely to get to know all of you.. (and now we get to call in for a cuppa when we drive past all your houses)..

The other big thing for me and Pete this time around was that we spoke together.  As Emma and Pete.. not Emma Case Photography.  This was our first joint talk and it felt like quite a milestone on where and how we want our stuff to go from here.  It was funny and scary and SO wonderful all at the same time and watching Pete tell his story about images he has taken makes me one very, very, very proud wife.

Over the whole week Rachael gave us the opportunity to do a couple shoot in front of the group. Cue major butterflies.  Cue in my head, trying to give myself tons of reasons why I didn't need to get up in front of the group and shoot.  And we nearly didn't.  But the last morning we all sat in small groups and just chatted about what we had got from the week and a couple of the attendees were talking about how they struggle with getting honest emotion from their couples.. soooo.. we grabbed Joel and Heidi and took them in to the barn to take their photo... :) These things always scare me to death beforehand but I'm ALWAYS so bloody happy that I actually do it.  I LOVED the shoot.. I LOVED shooting Joel and Heidi.. and I'm really glad that we got to give them some photos of each other AND a cute 15 minutes together..

How bloody ace are these two?

A Bit More Soul makes me realise just how wonderfully connected we all are.. wherever in the world we might call home.