Using the Environment to Create Unique Images
For today’s Just One I have a children’s portrait that combines so many of my favourite things. An interesting angle, a reflection, graphic shapes and, most importantly interaction and wonderful expressions from my fabulous subjects, two of my favourite children to photograph.
I’ve been photographing the girls since Rosalind was about a year old and it’s such a privilege to watch them grow up and become such fantastic, intelligent and interesting children. I love to see their imagination widen their worlds and I wonder, in twenty years’ time, whether I’ll be reading a book they have written, watching a film they have directed or listening to a piece of music they have performed. There’s magic to the imagination that, when nurtured as it is here, is likely to produce something incredible.
In the meantime, we play, we have fun on our photoshoots. Each year we make sure to document the activities that sum up the summer – last year it was tennis, this year it was making slime and playing musical instruments. That and Spikeball which is an excellent game if you haven’t yet discovered it and of course casting spells with our wooden Harry Potter wands.
The possibilities for this shot struck me as I walked out onto the balcony. Looking down I noticed the repeated lines of the steps in the garden that were mirrored in the glass barrier and the balcony. I immediately saw the possibility for an interesting and unique portrait.
With family portraiture I think a lot of the skill is seeing the possibility, finding the angle or the opportunity for the shot. Then getting the children in the right place and then, not directing the action, but stepping back. Being ready for the picture but letting the children find the shot themselves. It’s the moment of interaction that makes a picture, the little spontaneous moves that are so unique to each relationship that make it special.
I wouldn’t have thought to ask Hannah to curl in like that, to snuggle around her big sister. Yet, as they move in close, as Rosalind turns in towards her, we have a moment of tenderness that is beautiful and special and so uniquely there’s. This is what I love about my work, creating an opportunity and then allowing the children to bring their own personalities to the forefront, adding the magic that makes a picture sing.
Family photography – all photographic portraiture for that matter – is a collaboration between photographer and subject and when everyone brings something special to the table we end up with beautiful pictures like this one.
If you like the look of this picture, and others on the blog, and you would like to book your own family portrait session then do get in touch. I do have a small amount of availability this autumn and I’d love to meet you and your family.