Kiri and


Hobby or business?

September 18th, 2015 (by Steve)

Over the years, I seem to have plumped for hobbies that have paid me, rather than me having to pay for them. It’s not been a conscious thought; it’s just kind of happened. First it was bell-ringing as a teenager (getting paid to ring for weddings), then it was barbershop (busking and paid gigs), then it was photography as people asked me to photograph their weddings. It’s only the latter that actually grew into a business, and since I set up my sole trader account in 2006 I’ve photographed over 30 weddings. All the money I’ve earned then went straight back into investing in better equipment (apart from a slightly digression into experimentations with 3D photography… but that’s a different story!)


It therefore seemed natural when Kiri and I got together to combine my photography and web development skills with Kiri’s design skills and to add graphic design and web design to the business. And this is where I should probably say that I use the term “business” very lightly. You see we’ve never really attacked either the photography or design work full on as a business. We’ve always charged mates rates as we built up a portfolio of work and improved our skills and have never properly got stuck into marketing our work.

Soon after we got married, we decided that the wedding photography side of things would be retired. After a full week at work, I don’t want to have the whole weekend taken up with a wedding (plus the mandatory few evenings of preparation beforehand). The web design and development stayed, as that’s something we were happy to work on together in evenings and at weekends – Kiri on the design side and me on the coding.

And then our big trip around Europe happened, which was basically a bit of a sabbatical from work for us both, although we did hole ourselves up in a campsite near Prague for a few days for some focussed web design. This time when I went back to work full-time though we realised that something had to go. With a child on the way, we would have to prioritise family time in evenings and weekends. We had hoped to get version 2 of the Pig & Porter website live before we moved on, but as they were undergoing a further re-branding, we were unable to do that before we bade them a reluctant goodbye. It wouldn’t have been fair on them to remain as their web designers as they’re a growing business and we wouldn’t be able to give them the support that a full time web design company could. We’ll just have to support them by drinking their beer instead!


And we’ve just put the finishing touches to the Compass Maths Workshops website that we started several months ago.


So that leaves us with some big decisions. With the “business” as just graphic design currently and Kiri as a full time Mum, we’re contemplating whether it’s worth keeping it as a business. We’re not entirely sure that the freelance model works for us; you’ve got to be driven and hungry for sales as that’s what clients normally expect and deserve… isn’t it? But we’ve got other priorities now – there’s family and we’ve still got photos and video footage from our Europe trip that remain unprocessed.

If we’re serious with the “business”, we’ll need to invest in a new Mac for Kiri and start paying out for the latest Adobe Creative Suite software which is sold on a subscription basis these days. And what about the camera equipment that’s just sitting there? How can we justify that? Should we start selling photos from our trip? Should we get into baby photography?

And in all of this, our “business” website remains in the temporary state we put it in back in 2012. So watch this space – there may be exciting things on the horizon for Lightbulb Head, or we may just quietly switch the light off. Who knows.

Posted in Photography, Web Design | 4 Comments »

Inspiration and lessons learned

January 28th, 2014 (by Steve)

Do you know that feeling near the end of a holiday where you’re really looking forward to settling back into your everyday routine? If so, you’ll get where I’m coming from with this blog post. If not, you’ll probably think that I’m crazy!

Much as this trip is appealing to my sense of adventure, the lifestyle of constant change is outside my comfort zone. I’m a man of routine basically; Kiri is much more adventurous and spontaneous. So whilst I am loving this trip, it can be a bit exhausting at times and I’m looking forward to returning to “normality” at some point. However, when I stop to contemplate our time so far, I’m aware of how much we’ve learned and been inspired by what we’ve seen and who we’ve met… as well as that we’ve been able to give a little to others as we’ve travelled.

I guess the main inspiration that we’ve had is creatively. We have seen so many beautiful things; both natural and created by humans:

Mountain shrouded by cloud behind Lake Geneva, Switzerland:

Reflection of Schwaz, Austria:

Metelkova; an area of Ljubljana, Slovenia given over to street art:

Frost on our windows in Serbia:

Stunning whittling location in Akti Koviou, Greece:

The Meteora monasteries in Greece:

Graffiti in Athens, Greece:

Sunset colours from a beach near Nafplio, Greece:

Bright fresco colours in Pompeii, Italy:

Clouds and rushes in Strangolagalli, Italy:

Umbrellas strung across the road in Florence, Italy:

Shop display of Venetian masks in Venice, Italy:

The communal eating table at Ronald’s in Bussana Vecchia, Italy:

Incredible topography at the Verdon Gorge, France:

Beautiful sunset colours at the 3 Digues, France:

The ancient city of Carcassonne, France:

With this visual feast, it’s really no surprise that Kiri had a revelation that she needs to paint.

Equally, we’ve learned so much from the people that we’ve met:

  • Hospitality – when we visited a church in Switzerland, we were invited back for lunch after the service. Sharing food together was just part of their church’s culture
  • Perseverence – in Slovenia we saw a group of people working tirelessly to encourage others to read and discuss the bible critically and creatively, revealing that faith can be a living thing
  • Generosity – in Serbia we were bowled over by the generosity of everyone; what they had, they shared with us
  • Boldness – in Greece we met Julien + Anais; fellow motorhome travellers. Their stories from their travels so far wouldn’t have been half as exciting if they hadn’t taken risks and been bold
  • Retreat – when we stopped to help out at the retreat centre in Italy, we not only worked, but we also had time out. Time to rest. Time to gather energy.
  • Community – when we visited the artists’ community in Italy, there was acceptance of everyone; everyone was welcome and it was recognised that everyone could bring something to the table

These are just a few examples picked from myriad things that we’ve learned more about as we’ve travelled and they don’t even include the people we’ve met and the creative influences from Spain so far!

Probably most significantly though, we’ve learned a lot about marriage. Living together 24/7 in a small space, in foreign countries brings out the most extreme elements of personality. Whilst the process of learning about how best to interact with your spouse in every situation isn’t always fun(!), it’s drawing us closer. Every disagreement/argument results in us understanding the other person better, which makes our marriage stronger. It’s worth it.

So, whilst this trip may be outside my comfort zone, I’ve no regrets in doing it. It’s a massive learning experience for both of us, as well as a chance to be inspired creatively and there is no question that we’ll be able to use what we’ve learned when we move on to whatever it is that lies beyond this journey. I guess it goes back to the idea of a simple life not always being easy. But then again nothing in life that’s worthwhile is easy… is it?

Posted in KIST 2EU, Photography | 4 Comments »

London calling…to say goodbye

August 4th, 2013 (by Steve)

We’re leaving London tomorrow and we’re not coming back…well, actually, we are coming back in 2 weeks for a wedding, but then we’re not coming back! Yes, after weeks and months of planning, we’re finally leaving London to embark on upgrading Bertha (our motorhome) before we set off in her around Europe. These last few weeks in London have been pretty full on – here’s a flavour of what we’ve been up to.

Aside from both going through the rigmarole of leaving our jobs (thank you for the moderately priced bottle of wine!), we’ve had the interesting task of deciding where to leave our belongings whilst we’re travelling. Our family have been very kind and have given us the use of a loft, so in early July we hired a van and drove most of our things to Leicester. Now we don’t want Bertha to feel inadequate in any way, but the hire van was less than a year old, with only 1000 miles on the clock and incredible air conditioning on the first hot weekend of the year. Bliss. So that’s most of our belongings dealt with.

For months I’ve been wanting to do a time lapse from the top of St. Mark’s church overlooking the crossroads at Oval tube station and a couple of weeks ago we finally got round to it. There’s a blog post about it on our business website ( if you’re interested in the back story, but here’s the video:

We’ve also been looking after the design and content of the St. Mark’s website for the last couple of years and we wanted to leave it in a state where we were happy with it visually, but we could hand over the management of content to someone in the church office. Again, there’s a blog post about it at covering some of the technical details. If you want to go straight to the website, it’s

We’re terrible at goodbyes, but we’ve enjoyed spending some final fleeting moments with our London friends in the last few days in various locations; a garden, a pub, another pub and today at church. It’s now just time for the packing of the last few things in the flat and a quick wipe of surfaces on top of the deep clean we’ve done in the last week. I think we’ll leave our mouse traps for the next tenants…they’ll need them!

The adventure starts here!

Posted in KIST 2EU, Photography, Web Design | No Comments »

Messing about on the canal

May 7th, 2013 (by Steve)

What’s the difference between a motorhome and a canal boat? It turns out, not much! Over the bank holiday weekend we joined 4 good friends on a narrowboat (why do I want to call it a longboat…?) on the Trent and Mersey canal. Whilst giving us a glimpse of a slower way of living, it also was good to draw parallels between portable life on water and portable life on the road.


Obviously the major similarity is the rationing of utilities – you have to carry all of the fuel and water that you are to use. In a canal boat, weight isn’t too much of an issue, so there were 3 large gas canisters, 4 large batteries, a diesel tank that could last for two weeks and a fresh water tank that filled most of the bottom of the boat. So, scale is different, but there’s still the idea that you’ve got finite resource – for example the engine has to run in order to charge the leisure batteries so electricity is a finite resource and if you leave the tap running, you’re going to run out of drinking water at some point.

As for choosing where to stop for the night, it’s a case of always noting possible spots in case the planned mooring point isn’t reachable. One of the less attractive sides of both canal boating and motorhoming is the removal of human waste – fortunately the waste tanks in the hired boat were large enough to last without us having to “pump out”. Getting into the mindset of using public toilets where possible was good training though.

All of this is focussing on the practical side of things though – it’s the lifestyle that’s one of the most beautiful things. Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

Life is a journey, not a destination

With the canal boat we started and ended the weekend in the same place – there was no destination that we were aiming for and we were able to spend time appreciating the journey. I guess it’s a similar thing with motorhoming – you have the flexibility that comes with travelling with your home on your back. Whilst it’s necessary to occasionally top up with those things that are finite resources, for the main part, spontaneity is king. That’s one of the things we’re really looking forward to in our trip around Europe.

We’ve put a couple of photos from our canal boating weekend on our Flickr account (

To end, we’ll briefly go back to the question asked at the beginning of this post and give another answer – there is one very big difference – you’re not likely to sink in a motorhome!


Posted in KIST 2EU, Photography | No Comments »

All married and stuff

September 25th, 2012 (by Steve)

Here’s a photo from our minimoon!

Posted in Photography, Wedding | No Comments »