Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Document Your Days – A Family Adventure


A grand day out

For my latest shoot with this amazing family, we went on an adventure. Over the years we have done so many brilliant things: visited cool parks, taken pictures in their stunning home, we’ve played games, read books, gone swimming, had BBQ’s, all the things that make up their lives. We’ve created amazing albums from each shoot, a stunning visual record of a family life together.  For this session we wanted an ‘out and about’ day, mainly because the house is a literal building site. It’s always fun to go on an adventure so I was definitely up for that, a day out together is always so much fun and a fabulous way to take family pictures mixing in some lovely group shots with all the documentary images of the children having fun, exploring and enjoying their time together.

The fun of sibling interactions

This session for me was all about the sibling interactions, the giggles, the bottom squeezing (got to love the hilarious things kids do to make each other laugh) the games they played together. I love the way they laugh as a pair, these pictures often have so much long-term resonance.  The other day my husband told me he wanted a framed copy of a picture that is up at my parent’s house (see below) of me and my brother winding each other up. It’s a favourite of his, and a favourite of my parents too, as it captures so much about our relationship, that winding up, laughing hilarity that siblings have. He likes it because he says he sees it now when we’re together. I hope that in many years’ time these children’s partners might look at these shots and have the same reaction – loving the images because they show a close relationship that has all the same laughter and love as adults as it does as children.

Variety in your photographs

Of course, as well as sibling interaction and laughter I’m also looking for all kinds of other images over the course of a session, beautiful group shots which I always think are lovely to have and which can be taken in a relaxed fashion without lots of time posing.  I love portraits; the headshots that make us smile, beautiful pictures full of personality, and the action portraits that take in a game and activity or the environment to create something special.

On my shoots we do all these things, a few directed shots but mostly just documenting the day as it happens in front of me. The great thing about photographing kids is, that left to their own devices, they will come up with the best things on their own. They will decide to dance with their parents, or wedge themselves between columns seeing how high they can climb, I don’t need to direct, I can just react and find an artistic way to record their activities in images that have a creative and artistic approach and a strong graphic style.

A variety of images tells a story, pictures they can look back on as adults and remember the day, or if not the day exactly (because doesn’t childhood blend together in memory), then the kinds of days they had as children, fun adventures, exciting days out, days together as a family in local woods or exciting heritage sites (who doesn’t love a castle, I have two degrees in medieval history after all). I’m sure they will remember the laughter, the cuddles, the giggles and the bottom squeezing and I feel lucky to have taken pictures to make them laugh as adults in the way they make me laugh now.