Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Children’s and family photography in Herne Hill, South London


The May half-term holiday was beset by bad weather this year, but it didn’t make a difference to the fun we had on our family photography sessions. Rain on the morning of a shoot can often make people’s hearts sink, but I find that rain brings new opportunities and often results in some of my favourite photography sessions. On a rainy day, it’s important to think quickly and laterally, often moving the children on fairly quickly from one immersive activity to another – such as enjoying the energy and excitement of fun games like jumping on the bed or couch-surfing, but changing to something calmer like a book before any heads get bumped.

It was pouring when I arrived in Herne Hill in South London for Mette’s photo shoot, but I wasn’t the least bit worried – I have been lucky enough to visit Mette and her family for six photo shoots now, and this wasn’t the first time it has rained. Mette has the most fantastic home with wonderful interior design and beautiful, beautiful light. The children are also such good fun that I was sure we would come up with lots of fun activities to keep us entertained, and keep the supply of great photographs coming throughout the morning.

As soon as I arrived the children were raring to go, with Karoline wanting to show me how good she was at couch-surfing. I love this kind of thing – an opportunity to capture the joy of jumping around which children get to enjoy and which, as adults, we hardly ever get to do. Karoline and Jacob had a few goes on the sofa before we decided to quit while we were ahead and move on to a different activity.

We then baked some incredible Danish flatbreads, which I can’t wait to try baking at home. They were just delicious and the children made them so quickly, having fun along the way including the picture which became our ‘‘Just One’ preview image of Karoline practicing her rolling-out technique on her brother Jacob. I’d never have thought to roll flatbreads onto greaseproof paper with another layer on top – now I’ve seen it done, it makes perfect sense. I love this about my job, cooking tips as well as photography!

We continued our morning with some reading and fun in the drawing room, before deciding it wasn’t really raining ‘that hard’ and if we put the kids in waterproofs, it would be lovely to visit and take pictures at the family allotment in Herne Hill. As Mette said to me, you can’t be a fair weather gardener, and the family visit the allotment come rain or shine so visiting in the rain really reflected everyday family life. The children, wrapped-up warm and carrying umbrellas, were proud to show me the allotments – most particularly the trails from dead slugs -and then we went on a quest through the allotment to see the frogspawn. Sadly it wasn’t in evidence, but we did find ‘Pedro’ the ladybird so all was not lost. It’s lovely visiting places with children – the possibilities are endless and excitement can come from the most unexpected quarters.

When we decided that we were really quite wet, we headed home and the children were bundled into a hot bubble bath for our last bit of photography before lunch. We had packed so much into our morning, which is so often the case on a rainy morning. The results are – I hope you agree – wonderful, and I’m so pleased to share some favourites from our family photo shoot the blog today.

If you would be interested in arranging a shoot for your own family in London or further afield, do get in touch – we would be delighted to hear from you.

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