Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

A Storytelling Portrait


Multiple layers tell a story in this complex portrait

I love pictures that tell a story and so I’m thrilled to share this sneak peek, a storytelling portrait from a recent family photography session in West London which ticks all the boxes for me.

This is an image that is all about connection and family love. At the front we have this incredible expression of joy on the face of the youngest as he looks up to his dad, reaching out for a high five. That massive grin is reflected right back at him as his father leans in, joy, love, laughter, it’s all there even in those little feet swinging up and clasped together in excitement.

If the image just held these two main subjects it would work brilliantly. But it’s more than that, there’s more to tell in this storytelling portrait. By using layers in the image, we can delve deeper and see more.

At the back, his older brother is on the second swing, perfectly placed above his father’s hand making a strong composition. He’s looking up at his older cousin and you can see the adoration on his face, big cousins are the coolest thing ever. At the same time, he’s being pushed on the swing by his other cousin who is herself smiling and laughing as she looks at the action in front of her. It’s all connected and it all balances perfectly in this storytelling portrait image.

What draws me to pictures like this? It’s the fact that they will bring back memories. For these boys this playground at their local garden square is clearly a huge part of their lives growing up. They will look at this storytelling portrait and have so many memories of this place, of these swings, of the games and activities they did here with so many different people. That’s the power of photography to take us on a journey through our memories.

I also love the fact there are so many people in the image, so many beloved family members present in the picture. With cousins visiting from across the globe these moments are so precious, and these pictures will have such value for the children as the years pass, reminding them of time spent together as children and the fun that they had.

I hope you like this image as much as I do, a storytelling portrait from a recent family photography session in West London.