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Why a picture is worth a thousand words...

Apr 29, 2018

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words (writes Becky Sheaves of Cuckoo Down Farm).

It is also, as we discovered this week, also definitely worth quite a few hours of your life.

Our foray into photography started when a website which promotes Cuckoo Down Farm asked me for some “dusk” images of our safari tents.

Some what?

Turns out, “dusk photography” is all the rage in the world of glamping websites. Everyone, but everyone, has got pictures of their tents/shepherd’s huts/pods/yurts looking all twinkly and glowing with fairy lights against a blue-black sky. It’s the in thing.

This was news to me. Here was I thinking that what we should aim for in our imagery for the farm was sunshine.

Well, I thought.  If you say so, dusk it is. We will take just such a photograph. How hard can it be?

So I spent all afternoon sprucing up Blackberry, our newest safari tent, which comes with – ta-da! – a hot tub. Pillows were plumped, bunting was hung, flowers were arranged, glasses of Devon cider were poured.

I may have got a bit hot, bothered and “stressy” (not my word) during this process. You’d have to check with my husband John, who was shifting furniture and may or may not have uttered comments about “stressy” from time to time. 

“We’ve got a professional photographer coming!” I explained. “It’s got to look PERFECT.” And, by the time our fabulous photographer Steve Haywood (who just happens to do a lot of work for the National Trust) did arrive at our farm armed with three lenses, umpteen lights, a tripod and a lot of patience, everything was indeed looking gorgeous. So it should, given how much time and effort we’d spent on setting up for the shoot.

Then followed a long, painstaking process of all three of us (John, me and Steve) moving lights around. And around, and around. The aim was to make the safari tent look like something out of Narnia, all magical and sparkly. We then waited for the sun to sink down below the horizon and for the sky to take on that special sunset glow. John darted forward to throw petrol on the camp fire, Steve pressed the shutter and we waited for many, many seconds as the slow exposure allowed the lights to do their thing.

“It’s a wrap!” Steve announced, patting around in the grass for the other two lenses which were out there somewhere. It was so dark by now that we could not see them.

A couple of days later, the pictures arrived. And boy, does everything look fabulous. I put one of my favourites up on our farm’s Facebook page. This one picture got 91 reactions, 63 comments (mostly along the lines of “we have GOT to go and stay there!”) and reached, in total, more than 13,000 people. 

What can I say? It seems that people really like the idea of sitting somewhere outdoorsy as night falls, drinking cider, amid sparkly lights and by a glowing campfire.

In fact, John and I did just that once the shoot had finished. Well, it was a shame to waste the cider. And, as an owl starting hooting and stars began to shine, accompanied by a crescent-thin silver moon,  I must say, I can definitely see the appeal.


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