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Real Wales, Real People: Rachael Smith – Mother, Blogger & Photographer – Gower Peninsula


Real Wales, Real People: Rachael Smith – Mother, Blogger & Photographer – Gower Peninsula

Nia Knott

You’ve seen the pictures, you know just how beautiful Wales is, but how much do you know about its’ people? For a small population – just over 3 million people – the diversity is staggering. The Welsh are known as a friendly bunch, and whether they were born here or made the great choice to move here, you’ll likely receive the same warm welcome whomever you get talking to. One thing I learnt through my travels is that you can learn the most about a place by listening to the people that live there. The idea of this series of interview blogs is to give you an insight into the lives, loves & work of people that live in Wales.


Hi Rachael, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for our blog series. We first came across you on Instagram, and instantly fell in love with your beautiful imagery of the Gower Peninsula. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself, and your relationship with this amazing part of the world?

I’m Rachael, a wife and a mother of 3. I grew up in England (the Midlands) but moved to Swansea for university. My number one criteria was to be close to a beach, and so Swansea was the perfect choice for me. I soon fell in love with the place, and other than a year in North Wales after University, I’ve called Swansea home ever since, and hope to for the rest of my days. The Gower peninsula is a big reason why I love living here so much. The beach is my happy place, and being just a short drive from what are, in my opinion, some of the most stunning beaches in the world, is a dream come true. The Gower hosts such a diverse range of beaches too, there really is something for everyone. If you want beach huts, ice cream and family friendly, we’ve got it, and if you want to walk for miles before discovering a secluded beach you’ll most likely have to yourself, we’ve got that too. It really is an incredible place.

What does a typical day for you look like?


I’m a stay at home Mum to my three children. Two of them are in school so once we’ve dropped them off it’s just me and my two year old. He’s my little sidekick and we have a lot of fun exploring and having little adventures. We are a one car family so we can’t always get to the beach, but you can bet when we do have the car that's where we will be, come rain or shine. We are lucky to have a cycle path and woodland on our doorstep, so even on car free days we can get outside. I find parenting so much easier if we are out and about! I’m a photographer too, so I’ll always have my camera on me, and I love nothing more than capturing my little ones having fun in the great outdoors. 

How is your work inspired by your surroundings?


As I mentioned I love photographing my children (and clients) outside, especially on the many beaches on the Gower. They provide a stunning backdrop and wonderful light to work with too, so it’s always my preferred location. I love landscape photography too, so being surrounded by such beauty makes things easier for me. When you love a place as much as I love Gower, it’s not difficult to be constantly inspired and surprised by it. I can’t imagine I will ever tire of it, or photographing it.

As a local, what would your perfect day at the Gower consist of?


Our days out on Gower vary a lot, depending on many factors. With three small children we often choose an easy life over our dream day. But luckily even the easier access beaches are perfect days out. But if I could get a no whinge guarantee from the kids my ideal day would definitely be the walk down to Nicholaston beach. There is a beautiful walk you can do that starts off in farmers’ fields with amazing views out to sea, leading down through some woods, and then you climb over the sand dunes and are rewarded with the most beautiful sandy beach, which is usually pretty empty too. It’s such a gorgeous walk with a bit of everything along the way. It never disappoints.

Where would you take friends that come to visit you?


If they were up for a walk definitely Nicholaston (as mentioned above) but our go-to touristy day is usually to take people to Rhossili. You can have a breathtaking walk along the headland there and the beach is endless and stunning. They also have great cafes to grab a hot drink in afterwards too. Plus it’s always nice to have a bit of a gloat and tell people it was voted the UK’s best beach for quite a few years running and it’s just a short drive from our house ;)

Can you give us some tips for creating that perfect travel image?


Ooh that’s a tough one! Have I done that yet? My photography and the way I photograph the Gower is evolving constantly. Where once I was content with snapping what I saw, I’m now much more likely to try and compose the shot on my own terms. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. I’m constantly thinking “how can I photograph this place in a way that hasn’t already been done?” Everywhere you go in Swansea and on the Gower you can see the same photos of Gower being sold. They are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but I want to do something original. I’m not saying I’ve achieved it yet, but I’ll keep striving and pushing my creativity and have a lot of fun in the process. 

With such beauty on your doorstep, you must hardly ever feel the need to leave! Is there anywhere else in Wales that you'd like to explore more?


It is wonderful to know that any weekend we can go and spend time in the most beautiful places. But having spent time living in North Wales I also know that the rest of Wales has so much to offer too. We were given CADW membership for Christmas and so are hoping to get a camping holiday to North Wales in this summer to make the most of all the castles they have up there. I’ve also been desperate for some time now to get back to the mountains and do more walking. It was a big part of my childhood and I would love for my kids to spend some time in the mountains too.

Finally - what makes you most proud to call Swansea / the Gower Peninsula home? 


Probably the people. Everyone is so friendly and it is a really happy place to live. I do secretly wish I was Welsh, they are just the best. I’m so glad my kids were born here and get to grow up experiencing Welsh culture and heritage. There aren’t many places you could start a family with no relatives anywhere nearby and feel so very much at home. 

Rachael, thank you so much for your time, and for giving our readers an insight to your little piece of Wales. To learn more about Rachael’s work, including beautifully written travel blogs and photos, see her website