Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Guest blogger! The Creativity Collective @ Barnsley House

The atmosphere in the gardens at Barnsley House is almost meditative. Calming and expanding, the perfect place to open the mind and learn. There could be no better place to hold a two-day photography course.

Image by Ria Mishaal

This autumn, The Creativity Collective ran our foundation Floral Photography Workshop at Barnsley House aimed at those who have an appreciation for flowers and those who work as florists. This was a class of 6 students, allowing individual attention. In the past, we have had a whole range of attendees from those who just love to make floral displays and want to capture their work,  to those who have been in business as florists for many years and who want to photograph their work with a particular vision for their marketing. Most of our students own DSLR cameras but have very little experience with how to use them and find manuals and technical articles online a little impenetrable.

Images by Ria Mishaal

The conference room at Barnsley house overlooks the countryside; squirrels played outside the window as we worked. It is the perfect space for an open, exploratory and discursive atmosphere, as we sat around a central table with three setups around the edge of the room for practical work.

The content over the two days is delivered with discussion of key technical principles followed by practical application, giving the opportunity to learn first hand and ask all the questions needed to grow in these skills. Every student gets a 150 page fully illustrated course book so there is no need to take detailed notes and they can just concentrate on learning practically.

Images by David Cooke

We began by discussing the practical advantages and disadvantages of different types of cameras including camera phones, and working out where all the relevant settings were and how to change them on each one of our cameras. When everyone felt familiar with their camera, we dived into exploring manual camera settings and how they affect your image. We explored in detail the quantity, quality and direction of light and how to create an inexpensive home studio setup to manipulate available light to photograph your work. To illustrate this, we photographed a display in a light and airy style and in a dark and moody Dutch Masters’ style using the same available light.

Images by Ria Mishaal

On day two, we explored composition and styling and the consideration of working with light outside. Then the students were invited to put together all the principles they had learnt and devise a mini-shoot both inside on one of the setups and outside in the beautiful gardens of Barnsley House. We had invited the students to bring their own floral displays to photograph, so that they could use some of what they capture  for their portfolios, but we also supplied some displays for those who didn’t bring work or didn’t feel experienced enough to do so. To conclude our learning experience, we explored live editing in Lightroom and Photoshop of some of the students’ work taken that day, to show what is easy and possible to make the images sing.

Images by Ria Mishaal

On both days, we broke for lunch and wandered over to The Potager for a two-course lunch. We sat around one table to continue our conversation. A real bonus to in-person courses is the people you meet and the friendships you make. The conversation over lunch bounced from photography to floristry and many tips and stories were shared. Our hope is that, in this way, our courses will help to build and support a positive community.

The beautiful course book the attendees receive contains all the technical information they need, illustrated examples and 18 activities for them to advance their floral photography and continue to grow in their skill. They all get membership to a private Facebook group to share their work and ask questions as they practice, and there is a portfolio review available within 3 months of the course.

Images by Ria Mishaal

We are very much looking forward to run the next course scheduled for 27th-28th March 2019 for a maximum of 8 attendees. Will you join us in the beautiful spring gardens of Barnsley House?  Book your place here.

What Students have to say:

This course more than met my expectations! I loved being able to shoot in real situations and I learnt so much. Things I knew before finally made sense!

Thank you so much for a wonderful day - the course met my hopes and aspirations and more! Ria explained everything so well. There’s been so much work, effort and passion to create this course and it shows!

This course was really fantastic, I was really impressed with how much ground we covered in such a short space of time. Ria was so patient and clear with her technical explanations. She touched on so many different aspects of photography – my mind is buzzing! The book is absolutely an absolutely amazing resource!

It was a really enjoyable day. I feel I have learnt a lot and I can’t wait to go away and start practicing the techniques. Ria was really generous with her knowledge and also gave us a lot of creative ideas too in terms of backdrops and styling. I highly recommend this course!

This is so much more than a photography workshop! Not just all the technical learning but I loved the creative styling, set up and composition work. An all round masterclass. It went beyond my expectations and is so much more than as advertised. That BOOK is amazing, what an amazing addition. Ria’s generosity of knowledge, her inspiring technical skills and her all round creative brilliance allowed me to produce images I was really proud of!

We are proud to share some of the students work that they did on they course.

Images by Jessica Burling

Images by Emma Norton

The Creativity Collective provides inspiring, interactive photography education for those who want to develop creativity in their work. It was co-founded by Ria Mishaal, an established and experienced full time portrait and wedding photographer, and David Cooke, an internationally accredited visual art photographer with over 30 years experience in adult education. Learn more about them here.

Do join our supportive and positive TCC Community learning group. There we will do regular challenges to improve photographic skills and creative thinking.

Please subscribe here to receive a regular round-up of our most popular photography and creativity tips direct to your inbox. You will also get news of our new courses and products and special offers.

Friday, 28 September 2018

A Nice Day for a White Wedding

Working alongside Charlotte and Toni was an absolute pleasure from start to finish as Charlotte is simply one of the most organised brides I have ever worked with!

Charlotte's PA background means she's an absolute wizz with spreadsheets, planners and diaries. Her organisation meant that at least a year before the big day on 1st September her parents house was full of candles, signage and everything 'wedding' you can imagine!

Charlotte & Toni are regular visitors to Barnsley House (and the other hotels within the Calcot Collection) and their knowledge of the property really showed on the day in their great use of every area of the hotel and grounds. The boys enjoyed an ushers lunch at the pub prior to the ceremony whilst the girls made use of the beautiful conservatory of The Rosemary Verey Suite for hair and make up. The couple enjoyed photo's through the Lime Walk - my absolute number one photo spot, and added inflatables in the hydrotherapy pool. They really had thought of everything!

Our incredible endless summer encouraged guests to enjoy the outside areas throughout their weekend with us starting on Friday evening with a BBQ on the terrace through to the ceremony at The Gothic Summerhouse and open sided marquee for the reception surrounded by our chickens and wonderful vegetable gardens.

The attention to detail from the flowers, to toiletry baskets and gorgeous bespoke signage added a  personal edge to a beautifully traditional wedding.

With many thanks to:

Friday, 26 January 2018

The Day The Best Men Barked!

It’s not long after you meet Ken & Thierry, that you realise they are a very close knit family of five and it’s rare to see them without Jonas, Jacob & Neymar in tow! Of course, their wedding weekend would be no exception.

The canine best men accompanied Ken & Thierry down the aisle and their faces made several other appearances throughout the weekend!

This is just one example of how their wedding day was so perfectly personalised, it really was a true reflection of them as individuals and as a couple. We learnt a lot about Ken & Thierry in the planning process as each detail had a reason and a story. Then as the guests arrived, it became apparent that they all knew these stories too and each little addition was admired with a knowing smile!

Ken is from Belgium so the appropriate beer adorned with flags was a must! Thierry is French so only champagne would do! They met in Brazil which encouraged a colourful Caipirinha bar and live together in London so Pimms also featured on the menu…. of course!

Add these connections to a love of travel and there was no other option but a world map table plan and globe guest book.

The ‘wedding white’ bouncy castle and sparkler reception showed the cheeky, fun side of Ken & Thierry’s personalities but underneath it all, a wonderfully traditional wedding in our stunning setting enhanced by spectacular florals and sumptuous food. 

Many thanks to:

Friday, 15 September 2017

Weddings aren't just for summer!

When I first saw the photos of Nada & James, I just knew I had to share the details of their beautiful wedding with you!

Despite being just a few days post Christmas we had the most glorious sunshine and blue skies set against wonderfully frosty lawns and the legendary Barnsley House Christmas decorations.

Westwood Design used the most gorgeous combination of wedding-y pastel colours with some deeper seasonal reds and brass accessories ensuring that the wedding florals respected the time of year without giving in to all things Christmas!

Nada's fabulous dress (that she had designed herself!) combined long sleeves with the most delicate fabrics and red velvet Jimmy Choo's to really finish the look.

With just 20 guests, they chose the more relaxed setting of The Village Pub for their wedding breakfast where their menu included our famous Cheddar Souffle and UK based Chapel Down wine.

 Again the tables were adorned in corresponding floral arrangements topped of with flags and favours collected from countries they had lived in. They were led to the pub by a bagpiper who entertained all of the Barnsley House villagers as well as our wedding guests as he went!

We offer weddings all year round here at Barnsley House and love the contrast between these stunning winter days with the lovely summer weddings we see. For more information about getting married at Barnsley House contact;

The suppliers:

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Cotswold Clay come to Barnsley House

Here at Barnsley House, we have recently enjoyed collaborating with Alex and Josh at Cotswold Clay Company, who provide bespoke corporate hospitality packages including clay pigeon shooting.

Cotswold Clay will plan your event from start to finish with various combinations of wining, dining and activities. In their own words: ‘It’s our love of food, the outdoors and an appreciation that faultless hospitality is as important as the quality of clay days that makes Cotswold Clay the perfect answer to fun satisfaction for the client.’

Their most recent event here with us was for Rolls Royce, Sunningdale. Their day began at Coworth Park, Ascot where Rolls Royce clients collected their cars and embarked on the extended test drive to Barnsley House where a feast of freshly baked sandwiches, scones and cake awaited them.

Once refueled, the guests headed out to our fields (accompanied by storm Doris!) for a spot a clay shooting; a great activity for beginners and experienced shooters alike.

Nyetimber and canapes took the guests from field sports to an a la carte dinner in our Potager restaurant followed by a non-traditional cheese and wine pairing (also provided by Cotswold Clay) which went on to include Brockmans gin, beer and port.

The day was enjoyed by all involved and we really look forward to working with Cotswold Clay on similar events in the coming months.

For further information visit:

With thanks to for capturing the day and sharing his fab images with us.