Ashley Morrison's Blog

July 16, 2014

A former goat shelter.

After crossing the Irish Sea – on route to meet Rachel from the BBC, to shoot Duncan’s French Riviera villa in the hills overlooking Cannes, which I talked here: In the Dragons’ Den – we stopped to meet landscape designer Bradley Viljoen, and shoot his four-bedroom hillside villa…
Marie McMillen sitting outside Bradley Viljoen's hillside villa located in the Tarn region of France.
.. formerly an agricultural goat shelter building, built in the mid 19th-century, near the French village of Cordes-sur-Ciel in the Tarn region of France.

As a garden and landscape designer based in London England, Bradley Viljoen spends his time creating other people’s dreams. A few years ago, along with partner Mark Smith, they decided it was time to do something for them – they decided to live the dream across The Channel in France.

“The idea was to create a beautiful home and garden to enjoy whenever we could, with the hope of living there permanently one day,” says Bradley. “We would rent it out for a few weeks a year to generate a bit of income so we could continue to improve the property and to create a garden.”

No work in her…
Marie McMillen in the sitting of Bradley Viljoen's hillside villa located in the Tarn region of France.
.. but nevertheless, when a home looks this good…
The sitting of Bradley Viljoen's hillside villa located in the Tarn region of France.
.. who could blame Marie for just wanting to sit down and enjoy it – as Bradley & Mark had done a fabulous job here.

“We’d spent quite some time checking out various regions, firstly via the online agencies and then by visiting various regions. We didn’t really know much about the Tarn until we actually visited it back in the summer of 2001. But once we came here we just fell in love with it,” says Bradley. “Southcentral France has a wonderfully diverse landscape of rolling plains to gentle mountains, it’s crisscrossed by rivers and lakes and enjoys a rich heritage of ancient villages, castles, churches, and gastronomy. We just felt it was the ideal spot for us among the rolling vineyards and unspoiled natural environment.”

Still, a bit of work was needed to light the place and get everything tickety-boo for the camera – but Bradley here…
Bradley Viljoen in the kitchen of his hillside villa located in the Tarn region of France.
.. was more than ready and as you can see, had the whole place, including the bedrooms…
Master bedroom in Bradley Viljoen's hillside villa located in the Tarn region of France.
.. sitting up looking pretty much picture perfect.

“We wanted to achieve something that would embrace the best of living at home with the best of living out here and I’m pleased with how it’s all come together – our little bit of entente cordiale.”

So we actually managed to rattle through this one quite quickly, but the wonderful memories have lived on much longer – as we managed to get this featured in Britain’s No.1 Home Magazine, Ideal Home
Pages 84 to 88 in the July 2006 issue of Ideal Home magazine featuring Bradley Viljoen and Mark Smith's mid 19th-century hillside villa located in the Tarn region of France.
.. which appeared the following summer in their July issue – and also in Templeton Robinson‘s Property Life magazine too, the year after that…
Pages 38 to 46 in issue 10 of Templeton Robinson's Property Life magazine featuring Bradley Viljoen and Mark Smith's mid 19th-century hillside villa located in the Tarn region of France.
.. which I’ve got to say looked absolutely stunning.

A former goat shelter it may have been, but definitely not any longer – and so we’d just like to say a big thank you to both Bradley & Mark, for this very special day which we will always remember.

From Marie & me in the Tarn region, having fun on route to the French Riviera, to meet Rachel from the BBC for the very first time & the famous Duncan Bannatyne too smile

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June 30, 2014

The story behind the story.

After Marie and her husband Alan returned from a holiday in Cyprus to Aphrodite Hills near Paphos, she was on a mission to return there as soon as possible.

And so that became our next assignment – which to achieve, meant we would need to find at least 3 homes in Cyprus to shoot, that the Editors of the various UK magazines would then want to use – if we where to succeed in meeting our goal here… which is obviously to make money doing this wink

So based on us managing to come back with 3 sets of images, which would then get used by 3 national magazines and 3 local magazines, then no problems at all – as that would more than cover our basic costs.

Easy!

Well not as easy as it would appear of course – but nevertheless, Marie was on a mission here – and so before I knew it the flights were booked.

Anyway, as chance has it, the night before we were about to fly out, there was a party at my old school – the Royal Belfast Academical Institution or INST as we called it – as the current swim team had just won the Bath Cup for the first time since I captained their first winning team back in 1979…
The 1979 R.B.A.I. swim team who won the Bath Cup and the Otter Cup.
.. which is another story wink

Anyway, we all had a great night-out remembering old times, as well as congratulating the members of the current winning team – and of course, my old swim coach, Con O’Callaghan, was there smiling as always…
Members of the 1979 and the 2006 RBAI swimming teams who won the Bath Cup and the Otter cup with Con O'Callaghan.
.. and asked naturally what we were all currently doing.

So I mention we were about to leave for Cyprus in the morning, to shoot some of the villas at Aphrodite Hills, etc.

Well it turns out he had just returned from here – as his son John, who was also a very good swimmer, had recently bought a villa there – and that his daughter, Karen and her husband would also be flying out tomorrow too, on the same flight as us, to stay for a week.

Wow – we’ve got ourselves a home – and an Irish connection too – which is even better smile

So that’s the story behind this story here – which a few days later we went to shoot – and this was their villa…
John O'Callaghan's villa called 'Villa Thalia' at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. at the 5 Star Aphrodite Hills, nestled in the hills above Paphos in Cyprus.

Which is were we meet Karen and her husband…
Karen and her husband in Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. enjoying all the comforts of home – as well as the sort of things one doesn’t see often back in Ireland, such as this…
Out at the pool at Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. or this…
Table setting out at the pool at Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. out by the pool.

Beautifully decorated inside – and so for Marie and me, this didn’t take long to shoot…
Dining table area at Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. however, a wee bit of styling and lighting was still naturally required…
Guest bedroom at Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. just to be too sure it was right for those magazines we were aiming for – especially the national ones, as the standard of photography in those is pretty high.

Anyway, we finished up early as a result- however, I returned later to catch the sun at the back of the villa, only to find Karen and her husband out in the pool enjoying the last of the sun…
Karen and her husband in the pool outside Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. so naturally, the Hasselblad was out again to capture that – and then I waited for it to go dark, before capturing this final night time image…
The swimming pool at night outside Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. which I think was my favorite, being an ex-swimmer and all of that – as it really did say: I want to be there Smile

Anyway, the main reason why I’m writing about this one now, is because like Tia’s villa which I talked about here a few days ago: Living la Dolce Vita – this one is about to be featured again too, after all these years.
And on top of that, John has recently been in touch to say he now wants to rent Villa Thalia out – so has asked for the use of these images too – which he is currently using on his newly designed website here…
Villa Thalia at Aphrodite Hills near Paphos in Cyprus.
.. should you be interested in a wee holiday to this most beautiful part of the world – which Marie & I can personally recommend smile

So there you have, the story behind the story on this one – which you will be able to see and read more about it in next month’s Ireland Homes Interiors & Living magazine – which should be out next week.

Mission accomplished Marie – so that just leaves me to say a big Thank You to everyone involved here and especially to the O’Callaghan family – not forgetting Con, who once again after all these years, pointed me towards a great pool Smile

Thank you – from Marie & me remembering our time at the beautiful Villa Thalia in Cyprus.

June 29, 2014

Living la Dolce Vita.

One of the things both Marie & I love most about the work that we do, is meeting people – who in many cases turn out to be truly amazing.

And Michael, as seen here with Marie talking to the local Polizia…
Marie and Michael talking to the local polizia in the Italian Umbria region town of Amelia.
.. was one of those people who neither of us will ever forget.

Because not only did he show us around the Italian Umbria town of Amelia, and even got me into their Archaeological Museum to shoot things like the Statue of Germanico here…
The Statue of Germanico in the Archaeological Museum of Amelia in the Umbria region of Italy.
.. but he also introduced us to Tia Weissman here…
Tia Weissman in the garden of her Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. who along with her husband Bruce, owned this fabulous old villa which she called ‘Casa Lara’…
Tia Weissman and Michael outside her Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. which was located just outside the town of Amelia – which one could see on the hill in the distance from her also amazing garden…
Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. which Michael helped her look after, etc.

Well needless to say, we asked Tia could we shoot her place – so she kindly showed us around and I took some quick snaps…
Recce shot of Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. just to give us a idea for what we may need to do…
Recce shot of Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. in both terms of lighting and styling…
Recce shot of Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
… plus as some of the rooms where not really being used, like this guest bedroom…
Recce shot of Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. or had just been used, like her own bedroom…
Recce shot of Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. which clearly she hadn't got round to tidying yet, as she wasn't expecting us – then all of this was good to see beforehand.

Still, we had seen enough to say 'yes' this will look amazing – and so it did…
Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. after we all did our thing…
Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. which included lighting the fires…
Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. and making up the beds..
Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. which really did say this wasn't Ireland…
Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
.. but instead was someone living the dream in Italy.

Yes it was a lot of hard work; however, eight years on and the memories of all that work is long gone.

The memories however of this amazing villa, meeting Michael and Tia, plus the images we produced live on – and so I'm delighted to report that they will be appearing once again, in next months Ireland's Homes Interiors & Living magazine – which should be on the bookshelves next week smile

When 25 Beautiful Homes magazine featured it some years ago, as seen here…
Page 20 to 25 in the September 2006 issue of 25 Beautiful Homes magazine featuring Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa Casa Lara located near Amelia in Umbria.
.. they titled it "Living la Dolce Vita" and so did Property Life magazine too…
Pages 8 to 19 in issue 12 of Templeton Robinson's Property Life magazine featuring Tia and Bruce Weissman's Italian villa Casa Lara located near Amelia in Umbria.
.. meaning living the good life – which is sure was for both Marie & me.

So just ahead of it appearing on the bookshelves next week, I'd just like to say a big thank you to both Michael and Tia here, for making our trip to Italy a truly memorable one – as this for us is one we will never forget.
Thank you.

From Marie & me living la Dolce Vita smile

February 8, 2014

What prompted you to do what you do ?

As Meryll Frost, the most courageous athlete of 1945, once said:

‘They say behind every great man there’s a woman. While I’m not a great man, there’s a great woman behind me.’

So with one day to go before we headed home – Marie (who has become the great woman behind me) & I decided to go for it – and to take another gamble by putting our money where our month was – because we were here anyway with all the gear, so why not make the most of it !!

David had introduced us to Margaret & Barry Harris, who were from Birmingham in the UK – and they had invited us over to look at their villa…
Harris' villa in Spain.
.. located in Javea on the most Easterly tip of Spain.

When asked: ‘What prompted you to buy a place in the sun?’ they said:

Over the years we have always enjoyed our foreign holidays – there’s nothing quite like that feeling of leaving behind grey skies and stepping off a plane at the other end in balmy heat! But it’s not just about the weather – we love the whole relaxed friendly lifestyle that you experience abroad. Buying a property is a big step and you need to be sure you will get plenty of use out of it. In our case, we run our own business, which thankfully has reached the stage where we no longer need to be at the helm for 12 months of the year. When weighing everything up, we knew that between ourselves, our friends and family, we would get great use out of a foreign home! And although it wasn’t our main motivation for buying, we also anticipated that the villa would be a good capital investment – and with prices rising in the area, this has proved to be the case.

Perfect…
Margaret & Barry Harris' villa located in Javea on the most Easterly tip of Spain.
.. so we have a good story to tell – and so all we need now is to produce some images to go along with that, which would appeal to the magazine Editors & their readers.

So having recced the place a few days before…
Harris' villa in Spain.
.. we set about doing our thing…
The living room in Margaret & Barry Harris' villa.
.. by re-creating each of the original images we took…
Harris' villa in Spain.
.. to bring it more into line with what we felt an Editor would expect to see…
The dining area in Margaret & Barry Harris' villa located in Javea on the most Easterly tip of Spain.
.. and their readers too…
Harris' villa in Spain.
.. whenever they flick the magazines…
Master bedroom in Margaret & Barry Harris' villa located in Javea on the most Easterly tip of Spain.
.. such as these…
Pages 162 to 167 in the October 2005 issue of Real Homes magazine featuring Margaret and Barry Harris' villa located in Javea on the most easterly tip of Spain.
.. (Pages 162 to 167 in the October 2005 issue of Real Homes magazine) – which at the end of the day…
Pages 12 to 21 in issue 17 of Templeton Robinson's Property Life magazine featuring Margaret and Barry Harris' villa located in Javea on the most easterly tip of Spain.
.. (Pages 12 to 21 in issue 17 of Templeton Robinson’s Property Life magazine) – is what it’s all about, as that is all that anyone is ever going to really see.

So this is when I realized it doesn’t really matter what it cost us or how long it took us or even if we had been asked to take the pictures beforehand – because all that others are interested in, are the final results.
If the results are good and they want to use our work, then they will pay me for the use of my images – rather than to do the work, as the work will have already been done by then, and so they aren’t really interested in paying for that.

The penny had finally dropped – and so this was the start of a whole new way that Marie & I then moved our business forward – which I’ll write more about over the following months, as it was truly amazing what lead from this change in our thinking here.

From Marie & me @ ampimage creating the dream of living the dream in this beautiful part of Spain.

January 25, 2014

It’s an opportunity.

Not a job – is what I would often say to other photographers.

Which is what I was thinking here, when I received a request from an Editor to say:

Would you be interested in shooting this villa in Spain…
Villa in Spain.
.. as we would like to run an editorial feature on it ?

Well I really didn’t need to see much more to say yes to this request – but they sent me these pictures of it anyway…
Villa in Spain.
.. to let us see what the interior looked like…
Villa in Spain.
.. which does help, especially when it comes to known what we need to bring…
Villa in Spain.
.. to not only light up the place…
Villa in Spain.
.. but possibly style it as well…
Villa in Spain.
.. as one is only as good as the weakest link…
Villa in Spain.
.. which is something I’d often say too Smile

Anyway, one month later we were in Javea…
Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. on the Costa Blanca in Spain – to basically take the same images…
TV area in Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. as they had sent us…
Living area in Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. from basically the same spot…
Sitting area in Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. which I enjoy looking at afterwards…
Dining area in Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. as it clearly shows what it is we do…
Bedroom in Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. and why it may take us a full day to create images like this…
Bedroom in Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. rather than just a few minutes.

It’s an opportunity to show what we can do.
It’s an opportunity to produce some images that others may want to use.
It’s an opportunity to good to say no to.

Plus in this case, it was also an opportunity for us to shoot a few more homes while we were there, which I talk about here: One of the greatest discoveries a man makes and here: What prompted you to do what you do?

So you can’t really call that ‘a Job’ now can you Smile

From Marie & me @ ampimage in the Costa Blanca – living the dream Smile

Featured in the March 2006 issue of BBC Good Homes magazine…
Pages 116 to 122 in the March 2006 issue of BBC Good Homes magazine featuring Susan & Brian McHardy's villa located near Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. on pages 116 to 122 – plus in issue 14 of Templeton Robinson’s Property Life magazine…
Page 10 to 20 in issue 14 of Templeton Robinson's Property Life magazine featuring Susan and Brian McHardy's villa located in Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
.. on pages 116 to 122, in the summer of 2007.

October 15, 2010

Spot the difference.

On Day 7 – our last day’s shooting in the South of France – we shot another project for Liz Gibney…
Setting up the shot
.. this time, a very elegant and stylish villa near the French Riviera village of Saint-Paul de Vence…
The living room in Liz and Jim Gibney's villa near the French Riviera village of Saint-Paul de Vence.
.. which they had worked on.

It was for the most part, sitting up perfect…
The master bedroom before it was lit
.. so really just needed to be lit…
The master bedroom in Liz and Jim Gibney's villa near the French Riviera village of Saint-Paul de Vence.
.. after Marie & Liz had tweaked a few things to suit the camera.

So it was like ‘spot the difference’ on day 7 – and then on day 8 we packed-up and heading North, to the beautiful rural Armagnac region of France.

Which means more to follow – so watch this space !!

From Marie & me on our road trip across France.
www.ampimage.com

October 12, 2010

Jasmin

Woke up this morning to a beautiful day here in Saint Paul-de-Vence
The view from Janet's balcony.
.. and so we decided to make the most of the good weather and the amazing view…
The view from Janet Hamilton's villa 'Jasmin' near the French Riviera village of Saint Paul-de-Vence.
.. from the balcony of Janet’s villa – which we were shooting today.

The storyline:

The setting is simply out of this world – you can clearly see the stunning medieval village of St Paul De Vence from the balcony – and the villa itself was built in traditional Provençal style. Every direction you turn, there are beautiful towns and places to see and visit – from sleepy little villages in the mountains to buzzy cosmopolitan towns on the coast – bliss!!

Janet and her husband Ken toyed with all sorts of ideas about furnishing and decorating their villa – which incidentally is called Jasmin Villa because Jasmin trails over the balcony – when you throw open the shutters, the scent fills the air and is something else !!

Anyway, it was then into the main bedroom, which Marie sorted out very quickly…
Setting up the bedroom shot in Janet's villa.
.. while I lit it up to complete the dream…
The main bedroom in Janet Hamilton's villa 'Jasmin' near the French Riviera village of Saint Paul-de-Vence.
.. before finally heading down to courtyard area…
Setting up the courtyard shot at Janet's villa.
.. which Marie styled to perfection…
The courtyard at Janet Hamilton's villa 'Jasmin' near the French Riviera village of Saint Paul-de-Vence.
.. as I put up netting to reduce the contrast, before we sat down to enjoy what we had just shot 🙂

So that was basically day 4 – which we would like to thank Coup de Foudre for the tablecloth and cushions – and Janet for giving us the opportunity to produce such lovely images – in what has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

From Marie & me – in the French Riviera.
www.ampimage.com

October 10, 2010

Heaven on earth.

Is how I would describe the area where we are currently shooting in, which looks towards the French Riviera hilltop village…
The view from Janet and Ken Hamilton's villa called 'Jasmin' near the French Riviera village of Saint Paul-de-Vence.
.. of Saint Paul-de-Vence.

Anyway, on day 2 we made a start at shooting Janet & Ken’s villa…
Janet Hamilton's villa 'Jasmin' near the French Riviera village of St Paul de Vence.
.. which they called Jasmin – because Jasmin trails over the balcony and so when you throw open the doors, the scent fills the air… and it really is wonderful 🙂

So started with the dining table area…
setting up the dining table shot.
.. which always a favorite shot of Marie’s…
The dining area in Janet's villa near Saint Paul-de-Vence.
.. and then turned around to shoot the main living area…
Setting up the living room shot.
.. which was already pretty much lit – so all that was needed was a wee bit of styling…
Living room in Janet's villa near Saint Paul-de-Vence.
.. which was basically the same when it came to some details shots…
Writing desk in Janet's villa near Saint Paul-de-Vence.
.. of this writing table area for example.

Lovely – so we shot the downstairs and then called it a day – before heading into Saint Paul-de-Vence, as it was time to eat some olives, French bread and drink that lovely wine… Oh la la style 🙂

From Marie & me.
www.ampimage.com

September 15, 2010

The Italian Job

Five homes in Italy – from our trip across Europe in 2006.

1. Tia and Bruce Weissman’s Italian villa called ‘Casa Lara’ which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.
Tia Weissman outside her Italian villa called 'Casa Lara' which is located near the town of Amelia in Umbria.

2. Dizzi Alfons’ 18th-century former farmhouse near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region.
Dizzi Alfons' 18th-century former farmhouse set in a rural estate near the medieval town of Lucca in the northern Tuscany region of Italy.

3. David Law’s converted mill in the Marches region.
David Law's converted mill in the Marches region of Italy

4. Helen and Peter Hannick’s 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.
Helen and Peter Hannick's 18th century Italian farmhouse near Amelia in Umbria.

5. Claudia and Francesco Bachetoni’s villa called L’Arco in the Pianciano hamlet near Spoleto.
Claudia and Francesco Bachetoni's villa called L'Arco in the Pianciano hamlet near Spoleto in Italy.

Enjoy:

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