Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Stories behind the images No.5 – Oxford


To me, this picture is about the father and son relationship. It is about growing up in Oxford, rainy afternoons at the Ashmoleon museum, about science homework, about the joy of discovery and shared experiences. It isn’t – to me anyway – about having a family photo shoot, and I love it when my pictures rise above the circumstances in which they were taken, above ‘having Helen round to take pictures’ and all that is left are memories of a moment in time pure and simple.

As many of you know, I love photographing in new places and so I was thrilled when my clients suggested going to the museum (although we did take the risk that we would be thrown out, of course). We arrived early and didn’t stay long but it was great fun seeing what the children’s favourite objects were in a museum that they clearly love.

This shot is a particular favourite. I love the composition with father and son looking at the structure of DNA, while the younger brother plays in the background – how quickly children grow up! I love the interest on their faces and the closeness as DNA is explained.

I also love the receding pillars and light in the background suggesting new things to explore, new wonders to see and a future of learning that lies ahead.

I can only hope that Max becomes a famous scientist in the future so he can use this picture on the dust jacket of his thesis.

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