Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family Photography in Queens Park, London

15May

For my seventh annual session with Laszlo, one of my favourite subjects, we spent a morning in Queens Park and the surrounding area. Each year we go somewhere different, somewhere the family loves, to build up an incredible document of Laszlo’s childhood over the years.

We first met when Lazslo was ten months old and our annual session takes place at the same time every year. We always have such brilliant photo shoots and the relaxed nature of our sessions make them favourites for me each and every year. Elke and Peter always have such creative ideas for places we can go – from parks to interesting architectural areas of London, it’s always something a bit different. And then, once we arrive, we just hang out, play and have fun. Each year I get some of my favourite pictures of the year from our sessions. This year was no exception with the picture of Lazlo throwing the toys from his bunk bed being one of my current favourites.

It was a cold but beautiful morning and we were out and about early as always. We were the first people in Queens Park, a beautiful North London park which never fails to amaze me with the sheer variety of options in what is really a very small space. It has a fantastic play area, great trees to run around and, often, brilliant piles of leaves. Thinking about it, a lot of my favourite leaf throwing shots of the past decade have been taken in Queens Park, next time I go I should look to see exactly what type of trees they are.

The Queens Park play area is one of my favourites in London, particularly for older kids as it has a really interesting selection of things that are of a decent size which makes climbing fun. Lazslo had a brilliant time, as did Peter, enjoying the giant see-saw type thing, I’m not even sure exactly what it was, but it was great fun using weights and counter weights to swing in the air on the end of rope seats. Brilliant.

When we got cold we headed to a family friendly cafe nearby for toast, coffee and table football (didn’t I say that Elke and Peter plan the best family photo shoots ever!). We had an excellent time and I’m not sure whether they were impressed or terrified when I mentioned my brother had a friend who had his own table football handles which he would take to the pub – dedication or taking a pub game too far? it’s hard to be sure. I love this kind of activity from a photography point of view – real moments and real interactions and there is nothing like a bit of healthy competition to make things even more interesting.

Then we headed home, via the giant climbing frame at the end of the road. At home we took a few pictures in Lazslo’s room, reading with his parents and playing animal attack – a brilliant game that involved Laszlo throwing his animals down and his parents throwing them back up. It was fantastic for pictures even if I did briefly end up with a storm trooper balanced on my lens having fallen perfectly inside my lenshood. A brilliant morning with one of the most brilliant little boys I have the pleasure to know.

When thinking about your session do give some thought to interesting things to do – stuff you do as a family – it doesn’t all have to be trips to the park, indoor games are just as photogenic and often get overlooked. What is special is what you do as a family, what you love and what makes you laugh. These are the memories that will be so special as the children grow up and these are the things that will make the best pictures.