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What is art?


What is Art?


‘A work of art goes through many phases of development, but in each phase it is always a work of art. (Therein lies the importance of sketches.) A work of art is finished, from the point of view of the artist, when feeling and perception have resulted in a spiritual synthesis. – Hans Hofmann

Sounds good doesn’t it?  These “works of art” have definitely gone “through many phases of development” though not in the way Hofmann meant.

When we started to strip the studio, we found, behind three sheets of wallboard, an old range.  The stone mantle was covered in so many layers of wallpaper and paint it took three full days to strip.

amy best photographer  photographer rochdale
Working in small areas at a time we laid on Nitromors to dissolve the paint. As it began to take effect, the layers of paint bubbled up so that, as we scraped, it created  wonderful patterns. I couldn’t resist photographing the different stages.  Art indeed!

rochdale photographer                  rochdale photographer

In the end we managed to get the stone down to a smooth light turquoise colour. The range has been stripped of its rust and painted black.  Long ago it would have been the heart of the kitchen, the means of heating the house and providing many a hearty meal no doubt. It will never be as useful again but we think it adds a nice touch to the studio reception.

rochdale photographer


The work begins………


So, if you been following the story you will know that I managed, after much stress, to buy the old Post Office in Smithybridge and that, with no money to spend, I was content to live in my big empty shell of a house with all my belongings around me, still in boxes.

best photographer rochdaleWell, I scraped some money together and got the place rewired and then a few months later a new boiler.  But that’s all the boring stuff – what was exciting was the large empty room downstairs that had been the Post Office.  The first thing we did was to get my good friend, Tony, who was to do all our building work, to bring his table tennis table.  (Well you have to get your priorities right!)  By the time we’d decided what to do down there we were world champions quite good at ping-pong.

best photographer rochdaleYou’ve met my Mum, haven’t you? (in previous posts, that is).  Being a canny woman, she had put a clause in her Will that meant that her grandchildren would only get their inheritance when they turned 25.  This gave Amy a good eighteen months to dream.  No doubt she dreamed of travelling the world or at least taking an exotic holiday or even going on a wild spending spree but, when it came to it, “sensible” Amy took over and she decided to put her money into setting up her own photography studio.  It wasn’t a fortune but enough to create a simple studio and reception.  And so, with some money put away to buy cameras, lenses and studio lights…………..

…….. we got down to work.

Buying and selling houses is really easy – not.


Surely it can’t be that difficult

And so my little house in Chadderton went on the market ………just at the time of the housing market slump.  But then, I suppose it works both ways, as a seller and a buyer, so maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. I got an offer – excellent.  I put an offer on the post office and it was accepted – excellent.  It’s easy this house buying lark.

Two weeks later the sale on my house fell through.  It was January – “Don’t worry”  the estate agent said,  “the market will pick up in the summer”.  “THE SUMMER!”  I couldn’t wait for the summer!  Anyway summer came and then autumn and then winter.

The Housebuying File
Solicitors letters, reports, insurance indemnities, more reports (on Coal and Brine, why do I need that?), letters saying “Yes” and then letters saying “Computer says No”, more reports “because the last reports you had done are now out of date”.

After nearly a year on the market my little house sold – for a lot less than I needed.      In the meantime I’d discovered that, because the Post Office was a commercial property, I needed a commercial mortgage and this was virtually impossible to get for the small amount of money I needed.  My buyer wanted to exchange at the  beginning of November and the money coming from my Mum would be available in December.  HELP!   And help I got.  In the form of my lovely friend Judith.  “Put all your things in storage and come and stay with me” she said.  So furniture and books and paintings and books and the piano and more books and everything but the kitchen sink went into storage (everything, that is, except the cats but that’s another story) and I went to stay with Judith.

The Post Office was still for sale, my renewed offer had been accepted and there were three weeks to wait before my money came through.  They were probably the longest three weeks of my life.  What if a mystery buyer were to walk into the estate agent and produce a large wad of cash and buy my Post Office?  I would be homeless!  With a sigh of relief in early in December I put together the equity from my house, the money my Mum had left me, a large overdraft and a few quid that I’d found down the back of the sofa and bought the Post Office for cash.  Phew!

It was three weeks before Christmas, I sat in my big old house with a 30 yr old gas boiler, the wind whistling through the rotting windows, an avocado coloured bathroom suite with lime green tiles, no carpets anywhere in the house and not a penny to spend on it.

You have no idea how happy I was.

From Post Office to Postbox in one not-so-easy step.


I first saw the empty Post Office on one of the those internet house buying sites.  You know, the ones you go on and look at all the amazing houses you definitely can’t afford.  It was my favourite pastime.  I would search and dream of one day buying a really old house that I could do up. I saw the post office – it’s a three storey weavers cottage – tick.  In Smithybridge – I had no idea where Smithybridge was so I looked it up – near Hollingworth Lake – lovely – tick. It’s huge – tick.  As they say on all the house programmes “it ticked all the boxes” (don’t you just hate it when they say that?)  Unfortuately, unlike the people on those house programmes I didn’t have “a £500k budget for the country and only £150k for the pad in town” – in fact I didn’t have any money, just a 2 up – 2 down in Oldham.  Ah well!

Twelve months later my dear old Mum died.  She was great, my Mum, a real trooper.  When she died at 86 I was sad, of course I was sad, but most of all I felt really proud of her.  I’d had many a conversation with her about what a wonderful life she’d had (though she’d not really done much apart from working and bringing up the family) and how it was “about time I wasn’t here”.

And so I had a chunk of money – nothing like those “location location” budgets but enough for my post office dream to be a possibilty.  Thank you Mum.

I looked – it was still on the market!

Hello world wide web – Postbox Studio here!


>Postbox Studio Littleborough in Lancashire

Studio at Postbox Rochdale

Postbox Studio

This is our studio – cute isn’t it!  It’s small but we have loads of backgrounds for different styles of image.  It’s surprising what you can do in such a small area but then “small is beautiful”

There are lots of photographers in Rochdale, Oldham , Halifax and around the Northwest and West Yorkshire so what do we offer that is different?  Well – we’re very friendly.  There’s just me and Amy!  I’m Lois and Amy is my lovely, talented daughter –  the photographer.  We like to make people feel at home in our studio – it can be a scary thing having your photograph taken if you’re not used to it!  So many people come into the studio terrified – like “rabbits in a headlight” and leave feeling like a celebrity.  We have two beautiful makeup artists, Kirsty and Hayley, who work their magic on makeover days.  We don’t do any of that hard selling either.  We hate it!  It’s not often that our clients don’t buy their images but if they decide for some reason they can’t afford them (new babies and small children are very expensive, let’s face it) that’s fine by us.  Most of the time they can’t resist.  Who wouldn’t want images of their children wide-eyed and beautiful? Or that precious bump?  They are images to treasure forever.

And we’re not expensive!  You hear horror stories of people being charged hundreds and even thousands of pounds for images, being told that their images will be deleted if they don’t buy them there and then! And then when they buy them they can only buy prints!

We want people to love their images – use them over and over – make cards and calendars and frame them for their Grans.  We sell our images on disc with copyright so that they can do just that. At the moment our top price is £375!!!!  For that our customers get ALL their images – and sometimes Amy can take up to 75 in an hour’s shoot (she gets carried away, you see) and a large canvas to bout!

So you see we may not be the biggest photography studio in the North West but we are well worth a visit.

Come back and I’ll tell you what goes on here – who comes in with a bump and comes back with a baby!  – teenagers who have loved dressing up and posing and big families who have squashed into our little studio and laughed their way through a photoshoot.

See you soon!