Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Creative black and white family portrait photography


Today on the blog I’m thrilled to be sharing a selection of family portrait photographs that I am particularly proud of. I first met Caroline and her family back in 2011 when we spent a wonderful morning together at the family’s stunning Islington home and then at Greenwich Park, which is one of my favourite spots in London for family photography. I was so pleased when Caroline got in touch to arrange another shoot, this time when the family were on holiday in Norfolk.

I spend a lot of time travelling to my family photography sessions, visiting clients throughout the UK and Europe, and so I’m always happy to pack a bag (always with my running kit and a good novel) and head to pastures new. It’s fun to visit new places for family photography, as the different locations always spur me on to try new things and take pictures that I am thrilled with.

Barnaby and Guy were such fun to photograph, and we had such a good time. As regular readers will know, I love to incorporate the environment into my family portraits, utilising the surroundings to create interesting and original compositions, and working with the light to produce striking portraits. We had both a wonderful location and incredible light for this family photo shoot, we were so lucky.

We started our day by exploring the parkland near to the cottage that the family were staying in for a week. The boys bought their bikes to get from place to place, and I made sure I captured some images that showed all the fun they were having with their chosen mode of transport. I love the shot of the boys cycling into the distance, it’s a real favourite. Images like this remind me of all the books I read as a child, of the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, and all the adventures my brothers and my friends and I had trying to recreate the adventures of our imaginations. I love the relative anonymity of the image, and it’s feel of an childhood idyll. But also I know how special it is to the family knowing that they are the subject – I love to look at paintings and I think, no matter how much I love an image by Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent, the subjects themselves must have valued them so much more when they were created – I bet W.Eugene Smith’s children loved his wonderful photograph .

We explored the woods and then played in a pile of hay at the edge of a field. Caroline had found some wonderful spots for family photographs (Caroline’s previous job had been location scouting for film and television, and she has the most brilliant eye for a great backdrop). The boys had a brilliant time, playing in the leftover hay. The light was perfect, softly backlighting them and capturing all the detail and texture of the hay as they pretended to be mice burrowing down and then leaping up in glee.

We continued on our adventure and found a lake to splash in, the boys loving the fun they could have with the water, warmed by the sun. It’s amazing how much fun can be had in water, splashing siblings is a never ending entertainment.

And then we were home for a snack before venturing forth again, this time with Grandma and Grandpa to accompany us (they had been staying at a nearby pub and chose a laid back start to the day, wisely leaving us to the 8am start!). This worked brilliantly as we were able to capture pictures with the extended family too, photographs that I know the adults treasure now and the children will treasure as they grow up.

We had a great time taking a mixture of more formal group portraits and lots of photographs as everyone enjoyed themselves. I loved watching all the generations in a game of draughts; I think Grandpa showed that experience is king and we were even rewarded by a fly-by by the RAF. All in all, it was a perfect day and I’m so thrilled with the images.

Do check out this in-depth blog post  to read more about my black and white family photography

I do hope you will enjoy this selection of children’s and family portrait photographs, and if you would like to book a session for your own family then please do contact us, we are taking bookings for the summer and into the autumn and we’d love to hear from you.

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