Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Adventurous Family Photography in the Cotswolds


Action packed family photography

What a fabulous day this was – family photography in the Cotswolds with one of the most delightful families I’m lucky enough to work with. This was our third shoot and each one has been an absolute joy – from the first session to celebrate the arrival of their third child, which still stands as one of my favourite newborn sessions ever. Through sessions at their beautiful Gerrards Cross home to this one, out in the Cotswolds that was full of action and adventure.

What activities make for great family photos?

One of the things I love most about my job is the sheer variety to my days. When I get home and my husband asks me what I did and I’m able to answer ‘oh, I went to spy training school, played in a stream, did some paddle boarding, played cricket, saw a massive pig, you know the kind of thing…’ Photo shoots are wonderful and varied and there’s no one size fits all.

If asked I’ll always say that the best pictures are when kids are having fun, so, whatever they like to do to have fun is always where we should start. I’ll often combine a walk or an adventure outside the house with pictures at home so we get variety and so we can mix up activities and keep things moving. Often, if we do one thing for too long, the kids can bored so keeping a pace to the session works well and this way we can pack in so much variety to the pictures.

Portraits and family group shots

I always make sure to take some family pictures as I believe these are important to have and they don’t have to take up too much time. They certainly don’t have to be boring. It’s lovely to get everyone in the frame though and, apart from making fantastic gifts for grandparents, who doesn’t love a picture with all their favourite people. I like to do a few at the beginning, just to make sure we have something in the bag, and then the best ones tend to come later in the day – if we find a lovely patch of light or a fantastic spot for a group shot like in the middle of a stream!

Creative group shots can tell a story like this one from our paddle boarding adventure, the whole family having fun on the water and the setting of the incredible lakeside development part of the image too. Pictures like this always have so many memories attached – the people, the place, and the activity. After a summer of fun on the water images like this will be wonderful to look back on.

Taking inspiration from other genres for my family photography

Creating images with a unique look and feel is something I really enjoy in my work, and I’ll often take inspiration from other genres of photography when I’m taking family photos. I look at a lot of sports photography and I particularly love images that are full of movement. Panning my shots to get the whirl of speed is something I love to do and the resulting images capture the feel as well as the look of an activity. Speed bowling always works so well for a panning shot and while I’m always a little nervous that I will get hit by a cricket ball so far the risk has always been well worth it.

I love to mix up viewpoints and use different lenses that give different feels to images – from wide angles where I can incorporate the environment to images with more of a telephoto feel, particularly useful using a zoom lens when photographing water sports from the shore. Having a variety of lenses means I can respond quickly to different scenarios such as the moment when the children find a frog and I turn from a distance shot of the family in a canoe to a close-up as they look intently at their new friend, a favourite image that leads this blog post.

Fun family photography for everyone - book your session now

Family photography is fun for everyone, that’s the most important thing. So, have a chat with your children about what they will want to remember when they grow up, what will be the activities they will look back on, where do they play and with what? Activities don’t have to be obviously picturesque – puzzles or paddle boards – it all works will for pictures. The important thing is to document your family as you are. If this sounds of interest then do get in touch, I have a few available spaces left in the autumn and ‘I’ve love to meet you and your family.