Author - Olivia L'Estrange-Bell

Three and a half years on… 100 Jump Photographs, Take 2
Wrapping Up 2014 & Unwrapping the Adventurous 2015
The Art in Starting
Finding Strength
A Great way to Battle a Challenge
Favourite New Photo Editing App for iPhones
Behind the Scenes: Snow Jump
Just Leap
Quote of the Moment
Finding Happiness

Three and a half years on… 100 Jump Photographs, Take 2

Three and a half years ago, I embarked on a rather extraordinary photography project, titled 100 Jump Photographs.

It was very spontaneous, and I had no real idea what my plan was for the project, except that each photograph had to contain something jumping, and that there was absolutely no deadline. Unlike my previous projects, which had been a photo a day, which had to be completed by a certain deadline… I wanted the utmost freedom to do as much, or little as I wanted.


When I first embarked on this project, I received a huge amount of criticism, from those close to me, and strangers… it was quite extraordinary, because I never expected to have people commenting on what goals I set out to do.

After quite a lot of reflection, I decided to ignore the criticism and just go ahead — even though I had no idea what I was really going ahead with. I didn’t have a specific picture of how the project would turn out, or how long it would take me to complete it.


So I just went with things…. and 13 months later, I had successfully completed the project – a fun, joyful project, filled with 100 jump photographs, all of which contained people, leaping in the air. Some photographs included me, sometimes with two of my sisters, parents, and  friends.

By the time I came to “Jump 100” the project was the most popular series of photographs I had — with many of the photographs being used to promote companies, as book covers, magazine covers, book covers and the rest…

Completing the project, and having it become so successful, really did teach me that listening to my gut instinct was vital and to not listen too closely to critics. 


Three and a half years on…

After completing the project, I just carried on taking jump photographs. Many of which went into my following two 365 Projects. I think the total number of jumps I have taken is 250+

Which inspired me once again, to do something challenging… a second 100 Jump Photographs Project. 


A New Project: 100 Jump Photographs Project – 2015

So, I am now starting a new, second 100 Jump Photographs Project – and just like before, I have no idea what I’m going to do, or what type of photographs I will end up producing, but I do know that whatever it is, will be filled with excitement, joy, happiness, and some breathtaking photographs.

My goal is to push my creativity and create another 100 Jump Photographs, which are just as unique and spectacular as the first 100, and following 100’s that followed.

Which leaves me with this first one…. I can’t wait to create the next 99 and I hope you will enjoy them.

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Ps. This photograph is available to purchase as a print, canvas print, acrylic print, poster, mounted print, and aluminium print on The Bell Sisters’ ART website:


Wrapping Up 2014 & Unwrapping the Adventurous 2015

IMG_6477Time to wrap up 2014, with some closing thoughts… and time to start unwrapping 2015!

Life is generally so busy that I rarely take time to pause for reflection, and reevaluate the direction my life is heading in, what choices I’ve made, and what choices I want to make for the next couple of months.

Everything moves so quickly and things happen at such a fast pace, it’s easy for weeks and months to go by without taking stock of the choices we make, and the direction we’re heading in.

Although I rarely wait for the New Year to make resolutions, start new projects, goals and change habits, it is a great time to reflect on the past year – what was a success, and the lessons I’ve learned over the past year.


Remarkable Events of 2014

So whenever I read someone else’s New Year blog post, I always want to know two things – what they did and what they learnt in the last 12 months, and then, with all of that knowledge and time, what will they focus on in the following few months – up to 12 if they can plan that far ahead!


Some of the things I did in 2014 which are worth remarking on are, in no particular time-order:-

  • Our photographs were featured/bought by Orange, Lloyds Bank (inc. Sky News), Ralph Lauren, Weight Watchers, Waitrose, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble International, NBC news, AOL, WH Smith LTD, The Telegraph, Google, Samsung, Yahoo, Huffington Post,  Amstrad Wealth, Citigroup, Avis, Virgin Media, Time magazine and numerous others, such as book covers by a variety of authors.
  • I trained Sky Dancer from a flighty, difficult horse, into a beautiful young ‘star’ who can now be ridden bridleless & more. (read my blog post here) 
  • Lifestyle Blog launched in November 2014IMG_6108
  • L’Estrange-Bell Designs jewellery 80% complete & ready for launch in February 2015

2015 – A New Adventure

A year is a long time – 2014 taught me many things, some really hard lessons, ones which would take me a few hundred pages to write about, but it did teach me one thing that I can write about…

It taught me to dream, set goals, and have great courage – not to be afraid, and to have the true strength to stand tall, stand alone, and reach for something that feels hard… that feels impossible….. to do all the things I’ve dreamt of.IMG_6080

So although 2014 was tough, and I spent a lot of it battling my demons, and challenges, what it did teach me, was not to let it hold me back.

Which leaves me with my goal for 2015 – to take all my challenges, and all the hard work from 2014 and make 2015 a truly, new adventure.

I can’t wait to share the ride with you all on this blog…

– Olivia


The Art in Starting

If there’s one thing I’m certain about, it’s that most people have an idea – an idea of something, big or small, but an idea of something they want to do.

For example, an idea to write a cookery book, become an olympic athlete, build a business from the ground up. They’re all ideas – but how many people put their ideas into action? How many ideas are left to die?

An idea is the very first sign of a goal you may want to achieve; a little voice in your head, sending you a little nudge.

The Art in Starting

When the little voice inside your head gives you an idea – it’s incredibly precious. It isn’t just a thought, it’s very likely it is an idea and ideas are often elusive, few and far between and rare.

Treasure each idea, whose to say when you’ll have another one?

So if you get an idea, take action on it. Don’t leave it to go unnoticed, sitting on the back burner, waiting to be picked up.

It’s difficult to start something, it sometimes feels impossible, but in actual fact, it is not impossible. 


When I get an idea…

Something I’ve learned and developed over time is, when I get an idea, I just run with it. I get excited about it, I talk about it, I put it into action as quickly as I possibly can. That might mean taking one step, or ten steps. But I do it, and I do it quickly.

I don’t allow myself too much time to doubt myself – if I had the idea, and it came from within me, it’s gotta be a good idea. So I run with it. I have yet to find a time when that instinct, that reaction, hasn’t been successful.

Sometimes it takes weeks, months, even years for an idea to become apparent enough for us to realise, “Hey nice idea” – so when it does, I scoop it up, and hold onto it tightly.

How “The Bell Sisters” first started…

Over 5 years ago, I was uploading photographs to Flickr and editing those photographs with Lightroom, by Adobe. Because I was taking so many photographs, I ended up saving my settings as “presets” and to save time, I used them repeatedly.

As time went on, friends and others following my Flickr account, started to ask me about my editing and what I was doing. I explained what I did, and they wanted to have what I had.

So I put up a blog post on my photography website, and offered this one particular preset that I loved the most, for sale. I had no idea what I was doing, the blog post contained just one photo, and some links to flickr, and a buy button.

Months later it was such a success, that my sisters and I realised we’d had an idea – and I hadn’t even noticed it was an idea… I thought I was just messing around.

So we created The Bell Sisters, which grew and branched out, idea, by idea. Leaving us here, where we are today.

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No Idea is Too Big, or Too Small

Don’t doubt the idea. Don’t question it. Don’t over think it. No idea is too big, or too small, if it’s an idea you’ve been given, sent from somewhere within you, or from the heavens above, grasp hold of it quickly. Hold onto it, figure it out, and put it into action.

Everything starts with a small idea. It’s where you take that idea, and how you action that idea, that defines your potential, and your success.

Go wild, listen to that little voice within and you will get more ideas than you can imagine. Putting the idea into action (i.e. “Starting”) may be hard, but it’ll be a lot tougher to look back on yourself in twenty years, and feel regret because you didn’t give your ideas a try.

Work on your instinct – don’t listen to the negative part of you, or anyone around you telling you it’s not possible. Just do it. Prove to yourself that you have the ability to do what you set your mind to, and see where that takes you in life.

I can say with absolute certainty, that by putting your ideas into action, you’ll end up in a far better place, than if you don’t. Trust yourself.

Finding Strength

In life, we all have something we’re striving to do, a goal we have set, which we are reaching for – and while it’s normal to have ambitions and goals,  not many people will tell you that trying to reach those goals, can be absolutely terrifying…

Setting a goal can often be as scary as trying to achieve the goal, but it seems more acceptable and normal to have a set goal – but what about achieving it?

“They say” we’re supposed to set goals that terrify us – something which is so big, and scary that in a funny, twisted way, it’s a cross between fear and sheer excitement.


The real challenge is when you set the goal, then you have to try and achieve it – and when you begin to take the first few steps, it is petrifying.

It can continue to be throughout your climb to reach your goal; but it shouldn’t be. In fact, climbing your own mountain (goal) should be thrilling and you should do it, but without the fear.

Feel the fear, understand why you’re afraid, then put everything you know into practice – learn, study, do, repeat. Focus on the job at hand – take each step as it comes. As you take one step, the next step becomes clear, and the next step is even clearer.

We spend hours and years training for something – whether it’s studying the law, so you can take the bar, to become a barrister, or training to run a marathon, one way or another you’ve been waiting for the chance to get stuck into your goal, and you’ll be surprised at how much you already know that you can put into practice to help you reach your goal.

When it comes to doing your goal, and taking that first step, and following steps, try not to think too much about whether you’re able to or not. Don’t question yourself, don’t doubt your ability, in fact do the opposite. Put your utmost trust in your abilities to do what you set your mind to.


You may need to develop skills, and learn new things, but that doesn’t mean that you, the person, can’t achieve the goal you set yourself.

Climbing the Mountain

After you’ve done all your preparation, planning, and due diligence, there will come a point when you have to actually take the plunge, and climb that mountain.

Then there will be the point where you’re half way up the mountain, and you’re terrified, and you don’t know how to take another step, which is when you need to remember this:-

You’ve been preparing for the climb, but now you’re on the mountain.

You’re on “Mt. Everest”, and you’re halfway to the top – this, here and now is when you have to put all your training, everything you’ve done and thought about into the climb.

But when you’re climbing, other than thinking about which step to take, and what your best route is, you just need to do the action.

Take each step, don’t look up at the top of the peak, and don’t look down behind you. Only look 3 steps ahead. Don’t think about what you’re doing (i.e. “I’m climbing Mt. Everest”) or whether you can do it (i.e. “Can I really climb Mt. Everest?”, or how you’ll take the next 100 steps (i.e. “How will I reach the top of Mt. Everest?”).


Think about your plan, think about your next 3 steps, and then when you’ve done those 3 steps, think about the following steps, take those steps, and the next ones will be clear and each part of your climb will become clearer as you go along.

If you look behind you, you’ll terrify yourself into thinking how far the drop is if you fail. So don’t look behind yourself.

If you look too far in front of yourself, you’ll only start to think about how many more hundreds of steps, and hours you have before you’ll reach the top — and you’ll panic about how you’re going to get there, and what could go wrong as you make your ascent.

Sometimes your head likes to get in the way of what your body, and your training (skill) can do.

You need to use the functional part of your head, to work out how to take each step, but don’t let the negative (self-doubting) part of your head get in the way of your true ability to do something absolutely phenomenal with yourself. Whether it’s climbing Mt. Everest, becoming a barrister, musician, or chef etc…

Remember, the climb is only clear once you’ve made it. If you’re standing on top of Mt. Everest, you’ll be able to look down, and know how you reached the top. Which route you took, and how long it took you. You’ll know all the steps you found easy, and all the ones that you found hard.

But while you’re climbing, you’re not supposed to have that insight – if we knew everything about our lives, what would be the point in living them?

Go and do the things you want, and do them without the fear of failure. Trust you can, and you will. This will give you true, unwavering strength that will help you to lead the most incredible, self-fulfilling life you really deserve to live.


And lastly – you might feel alone in your ascent, but if you look around you, there are many other people also climbing their own mountains, and even if they’re not climbing Mt. Everest with you, it doesn’t mean you’re alone in your ascent.

There are people all around you, whether you realise it or not, who can help and support you.

But if you’re feeling alone in your goal and feel like it’s too much – remember, there’s someone, whatever your faith, who is out there, looking down on you, who has complete faith in your abilities, and they’re just waiting for you to reach your full potential.

Believe, and you will.



A Great way to Battle a Challenge

Everyone has battles. Every day, each person you see, is battling something – climbing their own mountain, or battling a problem – we all have things we’re trying to resolve and move forward from.

What’s extraordinary though, is this relatively common thought that “I’m the only one with ___ problem” – it’s quite the opposite. But it’s easy to think you’re alone in your problem, the only one.

This thought alone, I’ve come to realise over time, is rife throughout society – and it makes dealing with our problems harder, because we feel like everyone else has the perfect life, with no problems to speak of, and this makes us feel excluded, shut off from society and alone in our problems.

We feel shame, and embarrassment for talking about our problems, seeking advice, and so many other emotions, it’s hard to comprehend.

You’re Not Alone

So, the point of this post is to voice this behaviour.

If you have a problem – whatever it is, you’re unlikely to be the first person dealing with it – you aren’t alone, and if you look hard enough, you will most likely find at least one person who has also experienced your problem, one way or another.

Voice it

Don’t deal with your problem alone – voice it. To someone – choose someone who you can confide in, to ease the weight of the problem. The person you confide in may not be able to help you proactively resolve the issue, but they can be a support, and a lot can be said for support.

If you feel supported, you’ll find your problems are a lot easier to resolve. However if you are feeling alone, and trapped in your own head, then you’re going to find it a lot harder to battle.

As a great friend of mine once said to me when I confided in them: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”


So next time you have a problem – or if you’re going through a problem – remember that we all have problems, big and small. But we usually have all the resources we need, whether we realise it or not, to resolve our problems and achieve the outcome we most desire.

I have yet to be faced with a challenge that I haven’t been able to battle and achieve – very often the challenge has been immensely difficult, but not impossible. Sure it’s felt impossible at the initial stage, often half way through, and even three quarters of the way through, but in the end, the challenge was achievable.

My final thought for you is, don’t cut yourself off and try to battle your challenge on your own – there’s a reason an army is not one person, but many people – together we’re stronger, even if we’re not all leaders, the back (support) is as important as the front. There would be no frontline, without hundreds of people to back them up.

Find support, speak out, ask for help, talk things through, but most of all – believe in your ability and don’t doubt yourself. Trust that you have the ability to do what you set out to do.

Favourite New Photo Editing App for iPhones

While I spend a lot of time behind my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, there are times when I don’t or can’t have it with me – which is where my fabulous iPhone comes into its prime.

Although no comparison as a camera to my Canon, it’s still fantastic at capturing photographs and moments that would otherwise be lost.


Morning Sun in the Autumn

I keep it pretty simple, with my go-to app being Instagram and the editing tools it provides – preferring a rather simple approach.

However, sometimes I can’t help but want a little more……

With some searching, I came across Mextures, a fantastic app and worth paying £1.49 for.

It allows you to edit exposure, sharpness and much of the standard photo editing tools.


Sasha, training Krugerrand in the morning.

But then it allows you to add layers to your photograph – as many as you want – so, light leaks, textures, colour layers, gradients etc.

These are phenomenal, and add quite a unique and diverse effect to the photographs.

An additional bonus are the “Formulas” – you can save your own edit, and use other users formulas for a particular effect.

Check out Mextures on the app store!

These three photographs are all processed and edited with Mextures – I used a combination of 2-4 layers, some gradients, some light leaks, which give a relatively flat and dull photograph, some extra vibrancy and punch.

What I love is how easy it is to use – I’ve used a lot of photography apps, and one of the things I find frustrating is how they’re fiddly to use, and sometimes give me too many options, which leaves me wanting to give up and go back to my 1-click processing Instagram app!


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Behind the Scenes: Snow Jump

During my 100 Jump Photographs Project, one of the things we loved to do was film some “Behind the Scenes” clips to put a video together.

One of the most common questions we get are about how we jump, whether we use props to get our height in the air, trampolines etc… so we loved sharing the videos so you can see what happens to make a jump photograph.

The photographs we took in this video went into my 100 Jump Photographs Project, which I completed in September 2012.

I then went on to take a further 155 jumps (see the album on Flickr), not including the many fabulous jump photographs Rosanna (see here on Flickr) and Sasha (see here on Flickr) took.

"Life has no limitations, except the ones you make." - Jump #55 of #100

Originally when I started the rather odd jump photography project, I had no idea what I was getting into, or where I was really going with the project. To add to it, I actually received a lot of initial criticism for it from outsiders, saying it was too repetitive – luckily I didn’t listen too much to the critics, and carried on.

When I completed the project, it ended up being the most popular, and incredibly the most influential for our business. Many of the photographs I took ended up being licensed – in fact one of the photographs were licensed by Lloyds Bank.

This reminds me time, and time again, to try not to listen too closely to critics – and stay true to my thoughts and decisions and to trust myself.

Just Leap

[mks_dropcap style=”circle” size=”32″ bg_color=”#fff” txt_color=”#33241a”]”Don’t expect every single step to be clear before you leap – it won’t be. You will make the journey one step at a time. “[/mks_dropcap]

I recently came across this sentence and it resonated with me, because it’s something we do, in many areas of our lives — we tend to jump into something, before it’s really clear where we’re going, or what the steps are for us to take.

Yes, there are times when a few steps are clear, but a lot of the time, there’s just an idea – a vague picture of what we want to achieve, and then maybe, 1-3 steps we can clearly see, in a goal that may contain 3,000 steps.

Set a Goal; then focus on 1 thing

Set a goal, and then focus on just 1 thing you can do towards it. For example, if you wanted to learn how to play the piano, then other than going out and buying a piano itself, the first thing you can do is search for online courses – watch videos online, read a few articles, then start and learn the basics.

If you break a goal down into small, bite-size steps – just the first step, then the second step — but don’t think through the steps too much. Just do a little something – one thing, and then don’t over think things too much.

Don’t worry about where this one, tiny step will take you, don’t question yourself too much — and most importantly, don’t allow your negative thoughts to come in and tell you all the reasons why it’s impossible, or all the things that you can’t do. You can do one small thing towards your goal today, so do it — it can be tiny, but the size of it is not the relevant part, but the fact that you did something.

Once a Day

It’s always surprising how one thing, once a day, can suddenly create this huge thing — whether it’s the achievement of a goal, acquiring a skill, creating a work of art…. etc etc.

Just do one thing today towards a goal you’ve set yourself, and then do another thing tomorrow — don’t think about it too much — don’t worry about all the other steps. Just focus on today, and what you can do right now.


Finding Happiness

“Happiness”, it’s this thing everyone talks about – like it’s an unattainable thing.

Something elusive, which only a small percentage of people seem to enjoy – an exclusive and select group that must only be happy because they live in X country, own X items, have X job, X people in their lives, etc… etc…

The reasons, excuses and theoretical jargon we hear all the time, from those who are unhappy, is nothing more than “jargon”. We all have the ability to be happy, whether we have the perfect job, perfect family, house, or not. Whether we’re living the high life, or not. Or whether we’re having problems right now, or not…

Happiness is not that euphoric feeling we all feel after an achievement – happiness isn’t triumphant…

Happiness is steady, solid, unwavering and peaceful.

True, real happiness is being happy, even when things aren’t going smoothly.

Happiness is always with you, even when you’re battling a challenge. That’s not to say that you won’t feel unhappy, but you won’t hit rock bottom, or feel utterly depressed if you realise that it isn’t a fluke — happiness is easily achieved, through daily practice, and will be with you every day, like a best friend.

Happiness is a choice — when you wake up; and you go through your daily rituals, ask yourself the big question – “How do I decide to feel today?”

We all have problems and battles we deal with day in and day out. But while going through your own personal battle, there are moments of calmness, peacefulness, and in those moments… in the lulls, that’s when you can find your happy place.

Look up at the sky, and find something to smile about. Pause and look around you, and smile at something. Just smile. Think to yourself how lovely something looks. Smile at someone you pass – do something which a happy person would do. Appreciate what’s around you right now.

Smile at everything you can – appreciate everything you’re able to do. Have you just gone and bought a coffee? Did you drive to work? Did you walk somewhere? Smile. Because you can, and you did something – smile because you woke up this morning, got out of bed and started your day. Appreciate every small step, every single thing you’ve done today…

Look within – and find something to smile about that’s around you – do this every moment you remember to – and if you can’t remember to do it, add a reminder to your phone, or calendar, computer… write it on a sticky note and put it on your bedroom door…. anywhere you can to help you get into the habit of smiling and taking a second to appreciate something you see, or have done…

Happiness is a daily choice. Every time you wake up, you have a momentary decision – are you going to be happy today, or not?

Being happy doesn’t mean you won’t be unhappy, and happiness isn’t a flakey feeling – it shouldn’t disappear, even though you’re having problems. It should just always be there, under the surface. So when you’re finding something difficult, you just need to look, smile, appreciate, and you’ll feel happy.

Every time you feel happy, your problems will feel smaller, and less significant and more conquerable.

There are hundreds of fun, happy songs you can listen to. Feeling sad, down, depressed and flat? Put one on. Be obvious and play “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Go and get some dance music – and let the music’s happy beat take you out of your dark place.

If you can’t find happiness – then go and exercise, go for a run, go and draw something, but most of importantly, do something. Stop thinking and feeling unhappy, and do something with yourself, then appreciate what you’ve done. It can be big, or small. The size of the action you’ve taken isn’t the important part – but that you enjoy it, wholeheartedly, and smile at all the steps you did, to achieve it.

The fundamental part of finding happiness is to stop looking for it to knock you sideways and to find yourself brimming with joy. That’s ecstaticness – not happiness. Happiness is a habit of enjoying every moment, thing and person in your life, whether you’re having the time of your life, or the battle of your life.

Happiness isn’t something to be found, it’s there – you have it in you, but you’re not looking for it, and you’re not appreciating what you have around you.

When you stop thinking it’s unattainable, and stop hoping that something, or someone will give you happiness, that’s when you’ll find it. But most of all, find joy in everything you do, in everything you see and have.

Stand and stare in amazement at something – that’ll make you happy. When you feel it, hold onto it, melt in the feeling, and bring it with you when you appreciate something else.

Happiness, like most things in life, is a decision, a choice – it is as attainable as getting a glass of water. If you’re thirsty, what do you do? You get a glass of water. Like it’s no more complicated than walking over to the kitchen sink with a glass and filling it up.

Feeling unhappy?

Decide to be happy. It’s a choice, it’s your choice, and only you have the ability and power to really make yourself happy.

Sure, somebody, or something can make you feel happier, but it isn’t the same as true, deep, solid, unwavering, calm, happiness.

Copyright © L'Estrange-Bell 2014.