Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family and Child photography on Hampstead Heath


A shoot from the summer on the blog today and what a wonderful day we had on Hampstead Heath taking family photographs! It was one of those days where everything works out really well. The weather forecast had been terrible and Jonathan and Jo had been a little worried about taking pictures indoors (truly everyone, don’t worry about indoor pictures; they work really, really well) but dawn broke to a beautiful day. As my alarm went off at 6am, the sunlight was streaming in and I leapt up (perhaps leapt is a slight exaggeration: I clambered out of bed) with a spring in my step. I had a feeling it would be a great day.

It was a short journey to Belsize park where Jonathan and Jo live, and I was greeted by a smiling three year old, keen to show me his model tube train and explain the ways the fans worked (to keep people outside the train cool while waiting on the underground!). I knew this was going to be fun. We decided to head to Hampstead Heath where there would be lots of shade available the sun became too hot and bright. There are so many fantastic places to take photos there; I especially love the trees – such a temptation for climbing. It seemed a perfect spot for our shoot.

We got into the spirt of things straightaway, finding some beautiful wrought iron benches. Of course, just sitting on them would be very dull, and I suggested jumping off. Rafe looked delighted by the idea, and our friendship was cemented. After a few jumps of the bench and exploring a lovely leaf strewn tunnel, we headed down the steps to our first real love, a gate. Rafe took on an important job as ‘GateKeeper’ (memories of Ghostbusters came flooding back). He allowed us to stand on both sides of the gate but made sure it was securely locked and chained against invaders. With impeccable manners he let through passing pedestrians much to their amusement. I love the way strangers join in with children’s games as they pass by. It’s a small act of kindness that always brings a smile to my face.

From the first gate we headed onto the grass for hide and seek and football, being careful to keep the ball away from the lake. I think of myself as more than passable as a footballer, but that’s probably because I normally play with toddlers.

Heading into the wilds we crossed from Kenwood House onto the Heath, where the long grass provided a stunning backdrop for pictures of Rafe building a nest among the reeds. It was such good fun and in the photographs I was able to create a wonderfully textured foreground with the grass and show up what a stunning environment we were in. Onwards we found trees and sticks and started digging for rabbits. Rafe is too young to have read Lewis Carroll, and doesn’t yet know the risks of rabbit holes. We had a great time digging and even though we didn’t find any rabbits, we did find a worm – almost as exciting!

We finished the shoot with some tree climbing, Rafe showing his expert balance and great confidence for such a small boy. He happily sat high in the tree, chattering away. He was keen to know the differences between the my cameras and understood quickly why I carry one camera with a wide angle lens and one with a long lens, while his mummy and dad have a camera ‘where you twist it and it goes from wide to close up’. Perhaps he will grow up to be an engineer – or a photographer!

It was a brilliant day. We had a wonderful time and I am thrilled with these pictures. I do hope you will enjoy looking at them. Do get in touch if you would like to arrange your own photo shoot; I’d love to hear from you.

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