Meet the Mum and Dad duo creating playful, tongue-in-cheek photos of everyday family life

Post by
Marisa Young
Meet the Mum and Dad duo creating playful, tongue-in-cheek photos of everyday family life

Meet Hilary Mudie

Hilary Mudie is a Graphic Designer and mother from Scotland. A scroll through Hilary's images gives the viewer a sense for her unbridled creativity and vivid imagination. Hilary creates surreal jewel toned dreamscapes and fairytale scenes often featuring her young daughter.

Hilary's knack for visual storytelling has continued to become a family affair. Joining forces with her partner Lee Chisholm they created the entertaining, quirky and also relatable Instagram account @daddownload. This creative duo share their fun take on parenthood through everyday play with a creative twist.

Scroll down to find out more about this creative powerhouse couple and see some behind the scenes content of how they create their unconventional family portraits.

All about Hilary

I’m a mum to two beautiful little girls. Ava is 3 years and Mila is 4 months! You will see their cheeky faces feature in a lot of our work. I live in Dundee, Scotland with my partner Lee who some might know from our family Instagram account @daddownload. I’m a Graphic designer and previously worked in the Publishing and Licensing industry before joining Lee with Dad Download.

Hilary with her daughter Ava
Hilary's partner Lee with their youngest daughter Mila

Finding Inspiration

I normally have a million and one ideas spinning round my head which I’m sure most creatives can relate to! I start off most of my ideas by doing a little research for some inspiration to help me achieve the look, style or feel I’m going for.

Putting all of the creative pieces together

Once I've come up with an idea I’ll do a very rough sketch so I can get an idea of spacing or actions I need someone to do. I think this stage is quite crucial even at this stage you can tell if an idea will work or not.

When it comes to shooting it is simple to direct an adult but when it comes to a child you need to be prepared and ensure the experience is fun. We do shoots with Ava in 5 minutes and work with what we have.

I’ll then take it all into Photoshop to edit and look for stock images if needed. Most of our images are stitched together to get the best picture of each person, sometimes even arms and legs to get the perfect pose but that’s generally in the more creative edits.

The last stage is Lightroom for final tweaks on @daddownload but for mine I do all colour processing in Photoshop.

All the elements used to create Hilary's whimsical artwork

Tools of the trade

We use an old Fuji XT20 Camera, with a range of lenses from a wide 12mm 2.0, a 33m 1.4 but we probably mostly use the kit 20-70m 2.4 just because of the flexibility.

When it comes to software, we use Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and for our videos and Reels, we use Premiere Pro. Once exported to our iPhone, we will then make slight adjustments just to calibrate it to the screen.

We also use our iPhones quite a lot for the video as it’s probably better than the mirrorless XT20. We have a couple of tripods of different lengths and also some spot lights but we only ever use these when it’s REAL dark, as natural light works way better for us.

The family that creates together...

Daddownload started as a way for Lee to connect with other fathers. He didn’t know many other Dads and had previously made connections and friends through Instagram. He decided to use this platform to document his fatherhood journey and keep a visual diary for his time with Ava.

The wheels started to spin and I suggested we experiment with creative posts which were so unique they were very well received. Our images are put a fun and playful twist on everyday life and are were an effective way to tell a story. Ava also loves being involved and making a fool of Lee in the photos - he’s usually the butt of a few jokes throughout our account!

Dad Download has found it's own unique identity now as an exaggerated version of real-life parenting. To explore more whimsical themes I started my account @hilarymudie so I could simply have an outlet for my own ideas. It gets a little frustrating being constrained when you have so many ideas spinning around your head! Since lockdown and having a newborn I haven’t been able to do much more with my account but I’m hoping to find a bit of time to have fun with it again.

Our working dynamic

Lee usually leaves things very last minute, often it's even an hour before a shoot when we’ll start  thinking of ideas. Before our second child, when we had a bit more time, we would storyboard but at the moment we generally just chat it out.

I’d love to say we have a more professional approach but at the moment with a newborn we are just winging it! Being parents of two young kids and given the unpredictable and often fast paced nature of what we do, we need to be able to think fast and be flexible.

Lee usually sets up the kit and we both work out the scene while I operate the camera and direct him and the kids when they are involved. Lee does most of the editing these days unless it's complicated or a video edit such as Reels which I'm really enjoying creating at the moment!

A typical day in our household

Lee will usually get up early around 6am to get some admin out of the way. He’ll then see to Ava and take her to nursery, leaving me to have a little lie-in (as I see to Mila throughout the night).

The mornings are usually spent playing with Mila and tidying up around the house while Lee works. After 11am we usually start thinking of ideas and set up a shoot if required.

I’ll pick up Ava around 3pm and either see friends and family to give Lee some or I'll come home to help finish off the shoot - especially if Ava is taking part.

Depending on what we’re working on, I might edit, or Lee will edit. We’ll then have tea, spend time with the kids and once they’re in bed either we’ll finally relax or finish up some jobs that need to be wrapped up.

My favourite creation

My favourite image is this Moana inspired edit I did of Ava. I love the neon blue popping through the deep blue and how dreamy it looks with her floating in the water. I had this idea in my head for so long I just needed to do it! Ava was rolling around on the living room floor when I took the photos so most are dark and blurry. It's amazing what can be created from nothing!

Thank you to our community member Hilary Mudie for sharing an insight into your creative family life. Follow along with Hilary's journey through her creative ego @hilarymudie, personal account @hilary.mudie and her family account with Lee @daddownload.

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