South West London mummy & baby photographer Katie Collins, tells us how she underwent her career change to photography

South West London mummy & baby photographer Katie Collins, tells us how she underwent her career change to photography

It's 1996. I'm skimming through University brochures in our careers room at school. What do I want to do when I grow up? I don't have a clue.

I always just assumed you get a job and that's it. Yes, you switch jobs for more money or when you get bored, but your career more or less stays the same, right?

Aged 25 and I was five years into a graduate job as a Radio Journalist. Yes, I loved my job but something was missing. I REALLY wanted to do something else more. That something else was photography.

So how do you suddenly switch from one career to another? For me it was a case of being brave and just going for it. Would it work out? I had no idea. Was it madness to leave behind a great job in radio? Maybe.

My career change plans had a slight stumbling block. I had no photography experience (apart from one evening class course). But I put my application together and applied for an MA in Photojournalism (the journalism experience sealed the deal and I was accepted on the course).

There's no doubt about it, I was WAY out of my photography depth when I started the course in 2005. It was really tough; I won't lie.  My classmates had incredible portfolios while my own was a collection of snapshots.

But I loved the degree, made great friends, and learned so much. Ater graduating it opened doors for me in Photography and Picture Editing at The Press Association, Daily Telegraph and FOX TV channel.

Going back to uni isn't an option for everyone financially or practically but doing short courses (either online or an intense in person class) is worth looking into. 

Building a website is another great way to get your work on show. It doesn't need to cost the earth and websites like Squarespace give you a chance to build your own for free and try before you buy. That's where I started and I pay about $100 a year for my site.

Setting up an Instagram account and learning about hashtags will get your work seen by others in the field.  

If, like me, photography is the direction you want to head in, get reading. Join your local library and read tons about other photographers. We were encouraged to do this on our MA course and I've done a lot of reading recently, rediscovering some of the masters of photography and discovering new photographers.

Figure out who your favourite photographers are and learn from their work.

Magnum photos is another great resource, so settle down with a coffee and take inspiration from some of the best.

Please contact Katie through her site for more info on newborn and baby photography:



Why get a pregnancy massage delivered to your door?

Why get a pregnancy massage delivered to your door?

The body undergoes some fairly fundamental transformations during pregnancy, including postural changes, an enormous influx of hormones, weight gain, enlarged breasts, increased plasma and blood volume and the shifting of organs. Consequently, the journey can be uncomfortable and all pregnant women can expect some aches and pains.

A growing body of research supports the benefits of regular massage during this time, as a safe, drug-free, relaxing way to minimise and relieve the common discomforts you may be experiencing. It can improve not only your own physical and mental wellbeing but also that of your baby.

Getting a pregnancy massage delivered to your home helps you to fully relax as you do not have to travel so you can enjoy the benefits of your treatment without having to leave your home. We bring all equipment to you, so all you need to do is provide a room for us to set up in.

Our pregnancy massage is done in a side lying pose on the couch with the use of pillows to help support you in this very comfortable and safe position. We will go through a short consultation to make sure everything is safe for us to proceed and also to make sure we are concentrating on any areas of concern. You can have a relaxing massage or more of a firm pressure if needed which is perfectly safe. Our therapists are all trained in pregnancy massage and are experienced in this area.

We also offer post-natal massage to help with post-birth trauma on the body and help aid recovery. We can arrange a time when your baby will be looked after but you can also have the massage alongside your baby in a pregnancy massage position so that you can relax together.

Some benefits of having pregnancy/post-natal massage are:

Low back pain/ Sciatica

About 50% of women experience low back pain during pregnancy. The change of the body posture during pregnancy alters the centre of gravity, which affects the musculoskeletal system.

As the muscles adapt to the new posture, they can compress the sciatic nerve, which causes pain radiating from the lower back down the leg. Massage loosens those muscles and releases the pressure on the nerve. It can also help increase range of motion and elasticity in the surrounding joints and muscles.

Muscle aches

The muscles that keep the expecting mother upright now begin to work harder, increasing the production of toxins that literally stick the individual muscle fibres together, which then aggravates nerve endings and causes pain. Massage relieves that pain by breaking down the adhesions, releasing trigger points and pushing circulation into the area to increase oxygen and to stimulate the removal of toxins.

Leg cramps

The exact reason for leg cramps during pregnancy has not yet been successfully determined, but it’s thought that the extra load on the leg muscles may well be a factor. Low levels of certain minerals (magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium) and the lack of blood flow through muscles during prolonged sitting or lying down could also be a cause. Massage can be beneficial in relieving cramps by stimulating blood flow and by stretching the muscle.

Upper back pain/ headaches

Changes of the body posture and sudden increase in breast size can create muscle imbalance, and are thought to be the main cause of sudden upper back pain. Headaches are believed to be caused by the surge of hormones along with an increase in the blood volume circulating throughout your body (often aggravated by stress, poor posture, lack of sleep and dehydration). Massage relieves muscle tension, releases trigger points, stretches shortened muscles, and eases tension in the head, neck and shoulders.


Pregnancy hormones are responsible for many physical and emotional changes the mother will experience. One (Relaxin) causes a loosening of the musculoskeletal system, giving the joints the flexibility necessary for delivering the baby. Massage creates circulation around those joints to reduce pain.

During pregnancy stress levels commonly rise. Massage lowers stress hormones, which reduces anxiety, improves mood and can increase sleep. It also creates a natural pain relief through increased production of endorphins and serotonin, which can calm and reduce stress for mother and baby alike. Although research is still ongoing, it appears that reducing stress hormones can also decrease the risks of premature birth and complication during childbirth itself.


The weight gain and increase in plasma and blood volume increase pressure on the hip, knee and ankle joints. Swelling is often caused by the decreased circulation and increased pressure on blood vessels. Massage helps stimulate soft tissues to reduce the collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of waste products carried by the lymph system. By helping blood to flow into the legs, massage can reduce the chances of swelling, varicose veins and blood clots.


Foam Rollers.....passing trend or here to stay

Foam Rollers.....passing trend or here to stay

You’ve finished your workout and you make your way to the quieter area of the gym to cool down and finish with some stretches.  You find people stretching and “rolling out”. So what are the benefits and should you give it a go?

I have used rollers for a long time, on myself after running on tight hammies and calf muscles and also with my clients at the end of a deep tissue massage. I recommend to all my clients to use one when they can.  My favorite kind are the TP Rollers, they have little nodules on them which you can work into trigger points and ease out sore areas on the muscle.

why use them?

When used for self-massage, they help soothe tight, sore areas (known as “trigger points”) and speed up muscle recovery. This process of rolling out tight muscles and relieving tension is also called myofascial release.

By slowing rolling over various areas of your body, you'll help break up adhesions and scar tissue and speed up the healing and recovery process after your workout. Use it to loosen up common areas of tightness such as your outer thigh (iliotibial band, ITB), quadriceps, or upper back.

How does this help?

Essentially, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, or self-massage, that gets rid of adhesions in your muscles and connective tissue. ... Foam rolling also increases blood flow to your muscles and creates better mobility, helping with recovery and improving performance.

I regularly use a foam roller under my back after a busy day massaging my clients. It helps me to extend my back after flexing for a good part of the day. This can be applied to most “jobs” these days. Time spent at the computer and looking down at our phones for extended periods of time flexes the spine. By extending the back on the roller we can stretch and elongate the spine, which helps to ease out tension.

There are lots of ways to use your roller, I recommend buying one to have at home and then making an effort to use it every day, maybe just before bedtime. You can pack them away neatly and store them out of sight.

There are plenty of stretches available on YouTube and its great to watch something whilst you do it to get the correct posture.

I recommend;

Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back and cross your arms in front of you, protracting your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off of the ground, placing your weight onto the roller. Shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper to mid back.

* Always check with your PT instructor if you are unsure.

Why book a massage.......

Why book a massage.......

If you are looking for more reasons for booking a massage, other than ‘because it feels great’, look no further. Let’s face it, massage can make you a much happier person…but here are nine rock solid benefits of regular massage that make a compelling argument to book in for one soon!

1. Correcting problems in your body
With remedial massage, therapists are trained to assess your body, observe changes over time, and design individual treatment plans for each client. More than just feel-good massage, they can use specific techniques to address an individuals’ injury, postural or joint issues, as well as improving circulation, reducing pain and bringing a sense of general well-being.

2. Stress reduction
The importance of relaxation and well-being can’t be underestimated and one of the most noted effects of massage is a greater feeling of calm and relaxation. It reduces both emotional and physical stress, which is why it is often recommended in stress and anxiety treatment programs. The soothing, pampering benefits of massage encourage the release of endorphins – the wonderful chemicals that give us the feel-good factor. Conversely, those nasty stress inducing hormones such as norepinephrine, adrenaline and cortisol are reduced.

3. Immunity boosting
Due to the decrease in stress hormones, your immune system has a chance to work more efficiently, without impairment. In addition, massage increases circulation and improves lymphatic drainage, which again provide a boost to the immune system’s effectiveness.

4. Heightens mental alertness
When you are given a chance to relax and de-stress through massage treatments, your levels of mental clarity and alertness increase.

5. Releasing muscle tension and pain
Good massage techniques are a wonderful way of releasing trigger points, stretching and elongating muscles and breaking down adhesions. The therapist can focus on areas that are stiff, injured or just plain sore. By increasing the blood flow to the tissues and releasing the tension, massage not only helps alleviate the pain, but can also help eliminate toxins and oxygenate the cells.

6. Increased joint mobility
By releasing muscle tension around joints, the range of movement in the joint can be increased. When a joint is no longer hampered by stiffness, muscle function can return to support and improve joint movement.

7. Improved posture
Massage helps relieve a lot of tensions, particularly in the neck and shoulder areas, common in those who sit a lot or use a computer at work. Lower backs are also prone to tightening from prolonged sitting. Remedial massage can help remedy these problems by lengthening the muscles and balancing out the body for improved postural alignment.

8. Improved skin tone
Massage can help give you healthy and toned skin – it will reduce tension in the skin and adjoining tissues as well as increasing circulation. Increased circulation in and under the skin can aid the nutrition cycle and encourage cell regeneration. Happily, massage also stimulates sebum production, helping to improve suppleness, moisturising and softening dry skin.

9. Eliminating ‘vicious cycle’ complaints
Sometimes things keep going wrong despite our best efforts! For example, someone might get tension headaches due to continually clenching their jaw. The jaw clenching may be a stress response to pain in the neck and shoulders or somewhere else in the body. By addressing the source of the pain, the jaw will stop reactively clenching, allowing the tension headaches to be reduced or eliminated.

Now, we were going to give you just NINE benefits of regular remedial massage, but we can’t go without mentioning the wide variety of disorders that massage can work its magic on…

BONUS BENEFIT: Remedial massage assists a wide variety of health disorders
Whether it is insomnia; headache; depression and anxiety; back pain; arthritis; high blood pressure; chronic pain or constipation- studies have shown that remedial massage provides positive benefits for many health disorders.

Baby massage and the benefits

Baby massage and the benefits

I love teaching baby massage classes, they are fun and interactive and it is beautiful to see parents and babies bonding in such a loving way. The first sense to develop in the womb is touch at only 8 weeks gestation, so it is very profound to continue this loving touch with baby massage.

Here are just some of the reasons you should massage your baby;

Interaction- baby massage establishes a strong bond between yourself and your little one. It is a lovely to spend some quality time together and helps promote a positive touch. Turn off the TV, put away the phone and just relax and enjoy these special moments together.

Relaxation – your baby should find the massage very relaxing and this is a time when you can really focus on each other. It has a lovely calming effect and an increase in serotonin helps with the “feel good” hormone and this in turn creates less hyperactivity. The calming benefits of the massage should also help regulate sleep patterns as it has a lovely soothing effect.

Stimulation –Whilst you are going through the massage routine your baby is using their sight, sound and touch and learning the whole time! The massage stimulates all the different systems of your infants body for example; digestive, circulatory, immune and respiratory and helps quicken muscle growth.

Relief – The massage can help with any discomfort your baby maybe suffering from. This could be sensitivity to touch when they are very small or digestive and colic pain. We learn a special colic routine and tummy massage during the class, which you can use to help relieve any tummy pain they could be suffering from.

Please use the contact page for more information about starting a baby massage course.


A mums journey through massage

A mums journey through massage


Joanna from Home spa London writes:

I first started seeing Katie a few years ago when in 2010 she was working as a press photographer, pounding the streets of London, carrying heavy camera equipment on a daily basis. With the hours she worked she decided to go about finding a mobile massage therapist to come to her home and this is when she found the Home Spa London website. 

From that first visit she re-booked realising how beneficial a regular massage to ease out all the aches and pains of modern day living could be. I then visited Katie every month for a few years and then the exciting news....she was expecting her first child, a baby girl!!

"I had been booking Jo from Home Spa London for massage on a regular basis when I became pregnant with my daughter Alice. Regular pregnancy massage was a lifesaver. You become more prone to muscle strain when expecting a baby and I found massage also helped ease my anxiety of becoming a first time mum and help with relaxation."

The pregnancy massage is done in a side lying position on the couch with pillows used for support between the knees. We cover back, legs and arms paying particular attention to any areas of the body that need extra attention which could be lower legs and feet, lower back and hips. The massage then finishes with a lovely relaxing face neck and head massage.

When Alice was born Katie looked to Home Spa London for a baby massage course with some of her mummy friends.

"Myself and Alice took part in a course with several other mums and babies and it was an incredible bonding experience. As well as providing precious mother and daughter time together, I was able to share the massage tips I had learnt in the class with my husband who was able to try baby massage with Alice at home. Alice really responded to these classes and now I am pregnant with my second child, I definitely plan to sign up again as I found it to be a really rewarding experience. I still sometimes do mini leg and arm massages on the baby change table with Alice, and Tommy Thumb (one of the songs we sang in class) still calms her down if she is upset."

I was so happy to hear that Katie was expecting her second child. We are back doing the pregnancy massage which she tends to book around 7 or 8pm in the evening so her husband is in charge of putting Alice to bed and Katie can concentrate on having some "me" time. I find that there are always different symptoms that we work on from month to month, year to year depending on so many factors and that is why I love my job so much, its never the same and I get to meet some fantastic people to share their journey.

"For me, massage is an important part of my routine now and I feel it supports my overall health and wellbeing. I'm delighted to have found Home Spa London and been able to make the most of the services Jo and her team offer."

Since writing this blog, Katie has had her second child Lara and we organised a re-cap of the baby massage techniques. It is a delight to be working with a family through their family journey.

Katie Collins photography: