Claire Menary is a travel and food photographer with more projects on the go than we can keep track of. Recently she took some time to escape to St Ives, staying in Beachspoke’s very own Moon Shadow.
Between taking phenomenal photos of St Ives beautiful landscapes, shops and cafes she managed to take some time for herself to relax and unwind. We caught up with her to find out what she enjoyed most about her stay and what lies in store for 2017.
Tell us a bit about what you’re up to at the moment?
I’m pleased to say that my photography business (www.clairemenary.com), which I launched five months ago, is growing from strength to strength! I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible brands here in London, including Chiltern Firehouse, Kitty Hawk based in the City, and Notting Hill’s The Distillery.
In late 2016, I also launched my company, The Social Story, which offers professional photography alongside social media management. For me, combining photography with social media is a no-brainer and fortunately, it’s where my strengths lie, so was a natural decision to offer these complementary services through my company. We’re lucky to be already working with some fantastic clients given we’re such a young company!
Finally, I run a lifestyle blog, ISWAS London, which covers everything from travel and food, to fashion and beauty. I also own The LDN Social – an online lifestyle guide for Londoners. I definitely do well to keep myself busy!
We’re big fans of your photography, having worked in PR previously, what made you decide to take the leap and begin your own business?
It was something that I’d been thinking about for a while. I’ve always had a love for photography and I’m constantly on social media for my websites, so when I decided to go it alone, I knew that my company had to combine the two. It was scary to take the leap but I can honestly say, it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I love working for myself and it’s been incredibly rewarding so far. I’m a strong believer that when you do something you love and are good at it, then you’re more likely to make it a success.
You recently stayed in Beachspoke’s Moon Shadow, how was your stay?
Heavenly! It was so relaxing from start to finish. The cottage was such a comforting haven, I could have happily locked myself in and not come out for days.
Beachspoke properties focus on beautiful and unique design and interiors, what were your favourite features of the property?
I loved the rain shower, it was a fantastic way to start the day, and the bed was one of the most comfy I’ve ever slept in. I also loved that the cottage was split over two floors – it was a real home away from home. I even bought the same St Eval sea salt room scent that was in the cottage so every time I come home I’m reminded of my trip.
Which Beachspoke property would you like to stay in next?
The Barn in Devon – it looks so picturesque!
How did you find St Ives?
I loved my time exploring St Ives, it was the first time I’d ever been and had wanted to visit for ages. It’s such a quaint little town with so much to see and do, and it offers the perfect escape from London.
What would you recommend people do in St Ives when visiting?
Whenever I go somewhere new, I say the best thing you can do is just wander because you never know what you’re going to stumble across. St Ives is filled with so many pretty spots (perfect for any budding photographer!) and beautiful beaches, it’s nice just to take the time to enjoy them. There’s also plenty of art galleries on offer and the Tate Cornwall is re-opening in spring, so that’s a definite must. Also, you simply must pick up some scones from the St Ives Bakery and eat all the Cornish fudge!
One of our favourite things in St Ives is the incredible local food – what restaurants would you recommend visiting?
Yes, there are so many! Sadly I didn’t get to try them all (I wish!) but definitely a visit to The Black Rock is a must and The Loft for a great plate of fish & chips.
With your job you travel a huge amount, what trips have you got planned for 2017?
There’s nothing set in stone yet but I’d like to explore more of the UK including the Norfolk coast, Devon, Scotland and Ireland, as well as return to Cornwall to explore some more! I’m also planning a trip to California and hopefully more European travel – I’ve got quite the never ending wish list to start tackling this year. I’ve just come back from Paris and absolutely loved it – so I’d quite like to return in spring when it’s not so bitterly cold!
What were some of your favourite spots you visited last year (excluding Moon Shadow, of course!)
Last October, I visited Venice for a short break which was really beautiful – it’s a photographer’s dream! I also got to explore more of the Cotswolds which I fall in love with a little bit more each time I visit.
Having such a busy schedule, how do you find time to relax?
Good question – I’m not entirely sure I know how to! I always try to factor in some downtime into my week but it is difficult when you manage so many businesses and projects. Sometimes I work solidly at weekends so I have to give myself an afternoon off during the week to remind myself to stay sane! Reading, going for long walks and seeing friends all certainly help me when I need to switch off.
What else lies in store for you in 2017?
If 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that who knows what the year has in store for you! All my energy is being focussed on my business and I hope all the hard work, long hours and weekends spent at my desk will pay off. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to work with some more incredible brands this year – I have a good feeling about 2017!