Editorial: The Empowered Entrepreneur book cover shoot

Katie Spicer Photography - The Empowered Entrepreneur

Think back to the roasting hot summer we had last year. I know it’s hard in the weather we are having at the mo! It was early evening and there was a group of us gathered in the gorgeous afternoon light, ready to shoot the cover shot for Elizabeth Cairn’s book The Empowered Entrepreneur.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Elizabeth’s dear friend (and mine!) Fiona Humberstone was styling the shot. She had brought lot’s of gorgeous props that reflected Elizabeth and her brand.

We knew we would have a table and chairs in the countryside at sunset but everything else came together on the shoot. Whilst Fiona was working her styling magic I was shooting various different angles to see what looked best.


This was the first shot. Angled slightly to the left of the final shot. It just didn’t work as well because there was too much dark green. Which means the eye is drawn to the lightest part of the image, which is the dry grass in the middle of the image. Not where I wanted it to be!

Katie Spicer Photography - The Empowered Entrepreneur Book
Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

So the table had to move and quickly as the sun was going down rapidly and everything needed to be restyled!


Things take time as well because we need to work out (rapidly) what looks best. Cushion on the chair, yes or no? Glass vase with Angelica in camera left or right? Luckily there were lot’s of people to help move things so I could concentrate on shooting as soon as it was ready.

Katie Spicer Photography - The Empowered Entrepreneur Book
Katie Spicer Photography - The Empowered Entrepreneur Book

We decided this was the best position and everything was perfectly styled. But then we thought maybe it looked too bare at the top of the image. As originally I had been further back and the tree branch at the top of the left image was showing. I Photoshopped it in later to see what we thought. Fiona also needed to play with the cover text and see what worked best.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

We decided this was the shot, everything was perfectly in place, apart from the light. As you can see the gorgeous light is blowing out too much of the image and everything looks too soft as a result. Great for a shot within the book perhaps but not the cover. The cover shot needed gravitas, it needed to be taken seriously, as well as attract Elizabeth’s ideal clients to pick it up.

On the way to all my shoots I do an energy pull. So driving here I did exactly that and asked to capture the energy of Elizabeth and create the perfect book cover to attract all the people who needed to read this book!

So not long after this shot was taken Elizabeth sat in the chair and we played with angles, whilst waiting for the light to move off slightly. We really didn’t have to wait long!

The final shot Elizabeth chose is the one with her in it, where the sun has dipped behind the trees. You can see Elizabeth pops more and you still have the warmth without the blown highlights of the gorgeous golden hour.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Elizabeth went with that image (despite loving them all) as her instinct was so overwhelmingly in favour of that one. “I knew the instant I saw it that it was right.”

Katie Spicer Photography - The Empowered Entrepreneur Book

The above image was another possible shot for the cover. Elizabeth said “I know Fiona wanted the cooler quieter one but I really wanted it to be warm and have some humanity.

I also sent the three options to five of my muses to get their opinion and they all spontaneously and immediately came back with the same choice as me. I also asked a few other people I know in publishing. 

Everyone wanted to see a person on the cover so it was a no brainer choice in the end.”

I really wanted it to be warm and have some humanity.

So that was a behind the scenes look at a shoot and the reasoning behind everything. You can see more of me in action in the videos at the end of the post.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

But for now I thought you’d like to hear from Elizabeth herself on what inspired her to create such a beautiful & meaningful book!

Where did your inspiration to write the book come from?

The inspiration came from my work over the last 20 years of so, first in corporate life and then with entrepreneurs and business owners. I noticed common themes cropping up and knew that there were simple paradigm shifts that could make a big difference to how people saw their business and approached their life that ultimately would bring more joy, fulfilment and a sense of empowerment. The inspiration in the actual process of writing was more about getting into a flow state, using my connection to nature, keeping my vision for the book front of mind and keeping my readers close at heart all helped. 

What do you want people to feel when they first see your book?

I really hope that the book has been created in such a way that each reader has a unique experience and feels what is right for them at the time. Books have always been quite magical to me, coming into my life at the right time for the right purpose and there are books that have stayed with me for years and years and each time I pick them up something new is revealed in the pages. People tell me that the Empowered Entrepreneur is working a little like that. Whatever feeling drives people to find find the book in the first place I hope is what is answered as they first experience it and enjoy the journey through it. 

People have told me that they feel hope, inspiration, anticipation, peace, curiosity, light and acceptance which really speaks to the power of the image you have created for the cover, that it can hold so much. 

Ultimately I want the reader to feel empowered, that they have choice over how they engage with their work and their life to make it more successful fulfilling and ultimately meaningful. 

Why did you pick me to shoot your cover?

I love your work. Your ability to capture nature and light in a way that is authentic and beautiful was exactly what the cover needed. I knew from past experience that working together would be easy and enjoyable which are also pre-requisites for any dream team I work with, and it all just came together at the right time. 

How long did it take you to write it?

That’s a tricky question really. The seed for a book was sown many years ago and I feel like I’ve been priming my brain with the content for my whole working life. I remember the moment I committed to writing it with gusto though. I was sitting in meditation autumn 2017 and the title of the book came to me. It was as if the book said 

‘Right, it’s time, I really want to be written and as you’re here and you’ve been thinking about it, I’m going to give you a shot, but you need to get on with it because if you’re not going to do it now, I’ll find someone else…” 

I still have my journal pages of that ‘conversation’ with my unconscious where I promised that I would be true to the book, that I would see it through, and countering all the internal doubts and reasons why I couldn’t do it and didn’t have time blah blah blah. Ultimately I felt at that point I made a contract, with myself, the book, the universe, whatever you want to call it, to get the job done. Shortly after, at the start of a workshop I delivered in November 2017, I made a promise to myself that by that time I delivered the workshop the following year I would be gifting my book to the participants. It was at that moment that I had a tangible vision, (me putting my book into the gift bags) something I could hold in my mind in a clear moment in time that galvanised my commitment like nothing else. 

I knew that it had to go to print by July if we were to make it in time, which meant the creative piece and styling had to start early spring. I was homeschooling my two children and working evenings so I knew I really only had school holidays when my husband would be home from his teaching job to get the actual words down so I did a big chunk of the first draft over Christmas. Most of that didn’t make the cut and then about 30,000 of the final words were written in 4 days of February half term. There’s nothing like a deadline to make things happen.   

It went on sale October 2018 and at Vision and Vitality 2018 it went into the gift bag for my lovely guests. 

How did you stay on track?

Vision and inspiration pulled me through the project if I’m honest. Once you have commitment and are excited about the creating then it mostly takes care of itself. That said, I am a fairly organised person who can focus when I need to and not get distracted, I thank my years of meditation practice for that. I had such limited time I just had to crack on. Less time is often more helpful than more time. And a deadline. Having a very clear fixed end point meant that everything needed to happen by a certain point. It’s also fairly straightforward with a book project as you know that there are certain things that need to happen in a certain order for it come come together in the most efficient way.

Did you have a muse when you were writing it or many?

Yes, whenever I write either for my clients or myself I always have two or three key muses in mind as it really helps focus the voice and bring the content to life. Having worked with thousands of entrepreneurs in the last 18 years or so I was lucky enough to have lots of people I could call to mind. 

In a very general sense I was writing to a creative small business owner who has an inkling that there might be a better, easier more fulfilling way to work but might be too overloaded, overwhelmed or unclear to navigate their way there. I was also writing to those people who long for their work to be a deeper expression of who they really are, who have something to say in the world that they feel is important but find it hard to see past all the conventional rules of life and work. 

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route?

My husband and I started a publishing company a few years ago. He is a fiction writer and we knew that, at the pace that he writes, we needed to be in a position to publish frequently and not be constrained by the publishing house model of book creation. When it came to The Empowered Entrepreneur it was a straightforward choice. I had made a commitment to myself to write the book in a certain way, to be true to what I felt needed to be written and I didn’t want to be swayed by thoughts of what might sell well or the agenda of a traditional publisher. I also love the freedom that self publishing gives you of being able to work with a team that you choose and that was very important to me. Working with a dream team of creatives that were all personally invested in the project really mattered. 

How did you find a book distributor?

There are actually very few distributors in the UK that will take on self published works so the show list was an easy one to get to. In the end I went with the ones that I know had done a great job with ‘How to Style your Brand’ and ‘Brand Brilliance’, the two wonderful books I edited for Fiona Humberstone. 

How are you marketing it?

At the moment, if I’m honest, the marketing effort so far has been pretty light as my focus is on my clients and their projects and I have a fairly limited number of working hours a week, but the book is doing incredibly well. It seems to have a life of its own and has reached over 15 countries so far I think. I imagine that, as with most of my work, the majority sales have come through word of mouth and recommendation. The community on Instagram have been very supportive and I’ll be ramping up the marketing effort this year and next with a book tour and a few other things I have in mind.

What were your best/worst moments in the whole process?!

The worst, in the final stages of proofing when I worried if all the I’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed, literally. No matter how many times you read a manuscript or how many eyes are on it, there is always something that slips through and that niggles me. The moments when dear Fiona was so excited to get started and was asking me for the manuscript before it was finished and I had to hold my nerve and wait until it was complete.

The best moments, gosh there are so many. The beginning, when I knew it was time to get started, I love the energy at the start of a project when there is so much possibility. The photo shoots which were such fun and reminded me of my days in event management. Seeing Gail’s illustrations in the flesh for the first time. They took my breath away she had put so much love and care into them. The moment I put the books into the gift bags and saw the project come full circle. The very best…my first spontaneous email from an unknown reader telling me how much they had got from the book, that was pure magic.  

What have you learned from writing it? Would you do anything differently?

Mainly the book has been an affirmation of itself really, it’s been a living example of what it holds in the chapters: That if you follow inspiration and create the conditions for flow that you can create something of value that will go out into the world in quite a magical way. That if you stay true to what’s most important and let go of everything else that life becomes meaningful. That if you don’t try to control everything or push through and wait until the time is right and everything is aligned that everything comes together in the end. That time really is an illusion and when you have vision, inspiration and commitment a heck of a lot can be achieved in a very short space of time. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the book and honestly I don’t think I’d change anything. I felt it was dance between me and the muse and that what we’ve created together is something I can be proud of and will hopefully be of value to the bright and brilliant souls it was written for.  


Behind the scenes snippets!


50 Phenomenal Photographers - The Brand Stylist

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands
Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Eek I am so excited to be featured in The Brand Stylist, Fiona Humberstone’s 50 Phenomenal Photographers Edit!

Not only that but Fiona listed me as one of her top 15 photographers. It is such an honour to be up there with the best. There is some serious swoonworthy talent in there!

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

I’ve worked with Fiona for 5 years now and she is such an inspiration to work for. Always striving to better her last creation, always evolving and growing but with her muses front and foremost in every single thing she creates. This is an image I shot earlier this year for one of Fiona’s many online courses.

Fiona is an industry expert and could see the need for a curated list of highly recommended photographers to share with people looking for brand imagery. So she set about creating one as part of her 40 at 40 initiative. Fiona turned 40 this year and wanted to create a curated list of 40 brand designers to celebrate.

The 40 in this case turned to 50 though as there was so much talent for her to pick from! You can download the Edit from Fiona’s website and see the photographers she recommends and why.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands
Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

You may wonder why I am encouraging you to download a list of other photographers! Well there is a photographer for everyone and it is SO important to choose the right photographer for you, not only a style that works for your brand but a person that you will get on with. You won’t get great images if you don’t really like the person behind the camera, that will come through and isn’t going to attract anyone.

Fiona tells you what to think about when choosing a photographer, in terms of location, styling, substance and value.

As a brand photographer I connect my clients to their tribes through beautiful + meaningful images that capture the energy of their brands and show what makes them magical, outshining the competition and leaving their dream customers craving more.

I really take the time to discover what your magic is and how you want your clients to feel. That is so key in creating images as distinct as you are. Any photographer can take generic photos of you drinking coffee working on your laptop but will that connect you to your kindred spirits, your tribe?

You want to make sure your brand photographer has an aesthetic that matches your brand, is someone you can relax and have a laugh with and is someone who is going to deliver images that get you more of the right kind of work. You know, the kind of work that inspires your creativity to new levels!

Taking the time to go through a Brand Deep Dive with my clients really gets to the heart of their brand and what makes it so magical, so that I can portray that in their images. I am able to intuitively capture the energy of your brand and evoke just the right feelings in your dream customers. Way more than just pretty pictures!

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands
Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

If you are in the process of choosing a photographer, you love my style and would like more info on how I work then just head over here, drop me a line and I’ll send you my Enlighten Me Guide, which will do just that!

Brand Insight: Sarah Harper Floral Design - Infusing pure joy + love into people's lives!

Katie Spicer Photography - Lifestyle photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Totally fed up with bad customer service, throwing things together and always being in a rush. 22 year old Sarah new she couldn’t work for anyone else. So she set up her own floral design business, Sarah Harper Floral Design, and five years later has just gone through a beautiful re-brand by Becky Lord Design.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Sarah works with wedding photographers through her job but wanted imagery with gravitas and meaning. That’s when Sarah got in touch with me. She, like many of you, has followed my work for a while and loves my light & bright photography. We also share a passion for peonies and the countryside! So much so that Sarah’s whole re-brand was planned specifically for peony season!


Sarah’s work is absolutely beautiful. We wanted to show her exquisite attention to detail and the quality of not just her creations, but also the flowers she uses. So there were lot’s of close ups of flowers and also pull backs to show all the high quality flowers Sarah has to choose from!

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Sarah’s brand words are sophisticated, luxurious, romantic and elegant. She’s definitely got that going on in bucketfuls! Props also help to tell her story and are what I call client magnets. So Sarah’s ideal client is the kind of girl who has these books on her shelf and instantly feels a connection to a like-minded soul when she sees them.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

99% of my clients coming to me for brand photography are scared of having their photo taken! They know they need photos but they dread having the camera in their face. Sarah was the same but I told her by the time we started shooting we would have chatted loads and broken the ice. I also just get my clients to do their thing whilst chatting to them about what drives them, so they soon forget I am even taking photos! I just interrupt occasionally with some direction to make what they are doing naturally look even better on the camera.

This is my job and I’ve created a job I love, so shoots with me are always fun and free of any stress! Sarah’s gorgeous puppy, Alfie added to the fun factor! He was so well behaved!

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

It’s important to know what you are actually going to use your photos for beyond your website. Think about times when you wish you had a certain image for social media for example. A big part of Sarah’s work is wedding flowers, so that’s a lot of people getting engaged. Sarah wanted an image of her engagement ring that she could use on social media to congratulate newly engaged brides. It also connects her to them as Sarah is going through the same process they are and knows exactly how they feel.

It’s also a great shot showcasing the quality of Sarah’s work, her attention to detail and the high end flowers she uses. Multiple use shots are seriously powerful for your business. You can crop them in various ways for different uses so it doesn’t look like you are using the same shot over and over.

This is something I go through with my Ignite clients. We sit down and go through how you can use your photos for maximum impact. Knowing what you are trying to achieve helps me help you to use your images strategically.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

You want your clients to connect with you over more than your business alone. It’s great to show what else you are passionate about. In Sarah’s case her horses and being able to ride them in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside and her gorgeous cockapoo puppy Alfie! He almost stole the show during our shoot!

Sarah is also increasingly asked to create floral garlands for horses and dogs these days so she wanted to show her love for her animals too.

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands
Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Sarah’s clients value her and how it is Sarah they deal with throughout the process from initial meeting through to hand delivering the flowers on their special day.

“We build a connection which is full of trust and respect, they respect my ability & professionalism whilst always being approachable and and on hand to offer support.”

Showing Sarah as having fun with her animals shows her approachable side! Showing Sarah’s beautifully designed new studio shows her professionalism and attention to detail and helps her client’s picture themselves there planning their wedding!

Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands
Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands
Katie Spicer Photography - Storytelling photography for beautiful + meaningful brands

Sarah designed her beautiful light filled studio, it’s such a gorgeous space to work in. I am even more determined to have my own studio now!

The day of the shoot was very wet and dark and generally dismal. Overcast is good as there are less shadows and contrast to deal with, but this was particularly dark. But as you can see I worked my magic and you can’t tell how dismal it was outside in these images luckily!

If you are looking for beautiful & meaningful photos to tell your brand story and capture the hearts of your ideal clients drop me an email and say hi! I’ll then send you my Enlighten Me guide with all the details you need to know about working together!

Oh Katie they are beautiful! We can’t make our minds up. We love them all! There’s some real stand outs!

You’ve done an amazing job thank you so much xx
— Sarah Harper

If you’d like to know the 6 shots I recommend you need to tell your brand story, pop your email in and I’ll send you a copy

Does it get better than a gin distillery, botanic garden + cherry blossom cocktails in one afternoon?!

Meet Rosie + Anna! These guys run Independent Oxford, a directory + membership service championing the Indie businesses in and around Oxford.

Together with Visit England they organised an InstaMeet in Oxford to promote English Tourism Week. One of many MicroGaps going on in the country that weekend. I was lucky enough to get one of the 20 tickets to visit the Oxford Botanic Garden and The Oxford Artisan Distillery, my idea of total heaven - gin, botanical gardens & cherry blossom cocktails!!!

First stop was the Botanic Gardens to see where the guys at TOAD forage some of the 25 botanicals used in their Physic gin. The gardens are the oldest botanic gardens in the UK, so extra special!


Walking through the park to the distillery was a great chance to chat to some of the other Instagrammers & take a look back over the famous spires of Oxford.

Next up a tour of the distillery by the MD and one of the co-founders Tagore Ramoutar. Everyone we came across at TOAD was so passionate about their product and the unique story behind what they do, especially Tagore!

They make everything from scratch, they pride themselves on being the only distiller that produces from grain to glass. They plant their own fields with sustainably grown, organic heritage grains, they make their own neutral, & they even make their own stills (designed by the engineer behind The Flying Scotsman)!

Cory Mason, another of the co-founders and the Master Distiller behind TOAD & Silent Pool gin gave us a cocktail masterclass. I practically went into orbit when Cory started telling us about the inspiration behind the Ashmolean gin they make especially for the Ashmolean Museum. As he says every gin tells a story, and as a master storyteller as well as distiller, I highly recommend anything that this guy makes!

Every gin tells a story

Speaking to the curators and walking around the museum, Californian born, Cory started to get inspired as to where the original art collections came from. “So you have Persia, Middle East, you’ve got Northern Africa, you have Asian, Greek and Roman. So when you take the areas and you start looking at the botanicals that are important to those areas culturally, that was the starting point then for the gin itself. So things like saffron, rose, we have really interesting Middle Eastern citrus, we have mastic from Greece, we’ve got honey from Greece as well, we’ve got European juniper, English coriander. So really taking all these things, much like the museum did, as I say museums are often “where we went, the stuff we took from the people we saw”. These are just some of the 17 botanicals that go into the Ashmolean gin. Others include jasmine green tea, honey, rose petals, orris root & myrrh. Just how cool is that?!

It really was my lucky day as Cory had just created a cherry blossom gin, who am I kidding I think I died and went to heaven, two of my most favourite things on earth!! So we then got an amazing masterclass from Cory. I was even more honoured when I found out that he never gives masterclasses at the distillery. His passion for distilling and the inspiration behind his amazing creations is totally infectious!

You can book a tour at TOAD yourself and I highly recommend it, not least because you get to taste test their spirits. They are a really nice, genuine & incredibly passionate and inspiring bunch of people!


Places to Stay Spotlight: Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

At this time of year, nestled deep within the Wye Valley, Herefordshire, you'll find four vintage caravans, Elsie, Gertie, Monty + Sybil, floating amongst glorious clouds of cow parsley! These delightfully named vintage vans have been lovingly restored by owners Jo + Sacha and are enjoying a new lease of life in their sixth season as boutique glamping accommodation.

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

The eco friendly glampsite is the perfect place for family adventures, romantic getaways and party gatherings. It is totally off grid so you can relax, have a digital detox and sit back and enjoy the stunning sunset views to the Black Mountains.

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

Sacha + Jo came up with the idea in 2012 and opened the van doors to their first guests in July 2013.  They started with 3 vans and over the years have added Sybil + Monty and put Darcy into semi-retirement in the Orchard.  She is only used as overflow accommodation for whole site bookings these days. 

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

It is such a quirky place, I asked Jo + Sacha how they came up with the idea for Mad Dogs + Vintage Vans and the name!

"Back in 2012 Sacha had bought Elsie and was busy renovating her.  We knew each other from the school gate and shared a love of all things vintage and upcycled.  She asked me to come and have a look at Elsie.  I absolutely loved what Sacha was doing and before you knew it we were investigating the idea of opening a glampsite in the meadow at the bottom of the garden to take advantage of the fabulous views west to the Black Mountains.  Research showed us there was nothing like Mad Dogs out there – most glampsites consisted of bell tents, yurts or tipis.  That summer (July 2012) we embarked on a recce trip to Cornwall.  We were 3 Mums and 11 children aged 1-9. Pity the other young couples sharing the glampsite with us!   We wanted to experience glamping in rain and sun – and we got our fair share of both.  It taught us the importance of soakaways and what you need when the weather’s against you. Mad Dogs opened up the following year. Our name is a play on Mad Dogs & Englishmen and like a lot of good ideas came to me when I was in the hairdressers!  It couldn’t be more apt as we’re dog lovers and all our vans are 100% British."

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

Following on the theme of cool names, the ladies name each van themselves. "Naming each van was as important and as big a decision as naming our kids!  They are all chosen to match the era of the van.  Elsie is named after one of Sacha’s daughters Elodie, Gertie is from the 30s, Monty is a good military name (we actually chose his name in conjunction with our social media followers via a Facebook competition) and Sybil is another ‘period’ name.  

They date from the 1930s (Gertie) though to the 1970s.  Sybil was handmade by a carpenter dad in the 40s for his family whilst Monty is a World War II design, built in the 1970s – one of the last of its type."  

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

Each van has been lovingly restored and decorated by Sacha + Jo, who are magpies for all things vintage, retro and pretty. Scouring vintage fairs, car boot sales, French flea markets, auctions etc. for the vintage pieces in each van. "Monty had to be stripped right back, insulation added, new bow ceiling, bunks built and the deck extension added.  He had a hedonistic past enjoying life on the rave scene and travellers’ circuit.  Gertie, the oldest of our vans, dating from the 30s, needed a large dose of TLC and repairs round the window areas but considering her age, was in pretty good nick.  We love choosing the fabrics for the curtains and deciding on the colourways for the vans."

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

I specialise in shooting for beautiful + quirky businesses like yours, and from a brand photography point of view, it's important to know how you want people to feel when they come across your brand and when they come to stay. 

"We hope people will connect with our vintage/retro vibe and aesthetic and we want them to have a super comfy, relaxing and enjoyable stay with us.  We want them to slow down, switch off their iPhones and gadgets, re-engage with nature and the Great Outdoors and savour the simple things – like building a campfire, toasting marshmallows, hearing an owl hoot and enjoying a glass of something cold whilst watching the sun set over the Black Mountains.  And lastly we want them to fall in love with the Wye Valley.  Sacha was born and bred in the Wye Valley and is a great champion of everything it has to offer."

Katie Spicer Photography Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans-1377-1.jpg

Having the joy of running your own business in common, I am always fascinated to know what people love the most about their jobs. As if you've got it right, running your own business doesn't feel like a "job" anyway! I asked Jo what she loves the most.

"So many things but nothing beats a happy glamper.  Not to be taken the wrong way but when a child leaves in tears we know we have done our job properly and created memories that will last for a long time.  Watching people unwind and watching kids make friends and run free.  We have lots of returning guests and this year I was particularly touched when a 4year old regular arrived clutching 3 cuddly soft toys, all named after our dogs.   And beautiful Spring days and summer evenings are pretty hard to beat.  May is our favourite month – the glampsite looks so pretty with the cow parsley."

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans


Serendipity so often plays a part in people setting up their businesses. "I think there’s always an element of right time, right place and chance... we were 2 mums with kids in the same year who discovered we had lots in common.  Sacha had given up a career in the veterinary world and I had said goodbye to a job in broadcasting after 18 years.  Sacha had 4 girls, I had 3 and we were both keen to find something that could work around and compliment family life.  We both shared a love of all things vintage and retro.  And we both had different skills and backgrounds to bring to the business.  Sacha was born and bred in the Wye Valley whilst I had moved down from London with a young family in 2009.    Sacha knew the vintage caravan world and which vans were worth purchasing from an investment business point of view.  I had good media contacts which would help with publicity in our early years."

Katie Spicer Photography - Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

With a long season from Easter to the end of October, the girls welcome all sorts of guests. Couples of all ages, vintage enthusiasts and during the holidays lots of families. It is possible to hire the whole site so they also welcome lot's of hen parties wanting a vintage or festival style weekend, and  people celebrating big round number birthdays – 30ths, 40ths, 50ths.

Sacha and Jo have thought of everything, from delicious home cooked food (‘Van Service’) with veggies sourced from the garden, one pot meals, hangover brunches and handpacked picnics set up on a secluded bank of the Wye to holistic pampering treatments in their lotus bell tent. "We call this service ‘Glamp n Pamp’  and feel it is the icing on the glamping cake – what could be better than a deeply relaxing hot stone massage after a day canoeing down the River Wye?"

You can visit this beautiful haven of relaxation and adventure by hopping over to the website and booking online

Five ways to showcase your glamping site for a photoshoot

If you own a glamping site and would like photos to make it look irresistible to your customers, here are five ways you can showcase it.

  1. Tell the story - Don't just show the basics. Help them picture their whole stay with you. Capture the magic! Show the little details and the surrounding areas. These things matter to people and could sway them to book your property over another with 3 or 4 bad pictures.

  2. Prop it up - Add any props in that will help you tell your story. Lay the table ready for a romantic meal for two. Add seasonal flowers in a jar. Light candles. Showcase the al fresco dining opportunities.

  3. Remove any distractions - There might be something that fulfils a need but doesn't necessarily look good on camera. Move it! Rearrange things so that it works in the shot and helps weave the storyline. If there is something unintentional/uninteresting that draws your eye in the image, move it/cover it. Think about where you want the eye to go first in the image and make sure there are no other major distractions.

  4. Showcase your USPs - Really play up what makes you different from other similar glamping sites. Can you swim in the river? Show somebody swimming in the river! You have a solar powered open shower? Hint at somebody being in the shower! Do you go the extra mile for your customers? Tell them!

  5. Timing - Think about the best time of day to shoot it. Does it get the morning sun on the veranda? Does it have the most spectacular sunsets? Does it have different attractive features depending on the season? If possible add to your catalogue of shots with images from different times of day/seasons. Seasonal shots are fab if you want to be booked out all year round. You then need to tell a different story, one of being wrapped up together, all snug with the Autumn colours all around you and the fire on.

Always think about how you want your customers to feel and the story you are going to tell in order to achieve that. What is your brand all about? What are your ideal customers drawn to? Think about these things and make sure you get images to capture the essence of what you stand for and why they should book with you. 

It is also a good idea to shoot more than you think you need. You always need a never ending supply of images for social media. You can get more quirky with these, like the shot of feet in the shower etc!