Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Humour in family photographs


Images that make me laugh

I’ve wanted to take a picture like this for a while. Not exactly like this, as I don’t tend to plan my pictures in advance, but a picture making a feature of a hat with a face has been on my ‘to-do’ list for a while now.

I love these hats and wish they did them in my size. Since I first saw a child wear one I’ve been thinking there was potential for a really striking picture

I often have thoughts like this, moments where I find myself squirreling away an idea for future reference, a concept that, when the circumstances come together will produce something wonderful.

Pictures like this can’t be planned but you can be on the lookout and, from the moment Anselm put on his hat, I was on the lookout.

I feel that when a picture is about a visual joke, about humour, then it needs to work really well to work at all. The angles have to be perfect, there needs to be a story. Just taking a picture that says ‘look, a cool hat’ isn’t enough to make a picture work.

But when it all comes together, as it did here, it can be brilliant.

What makes this work so well is the way Anselm’s hat completely covers his face. Hood flying it looks as if it’s a mystical creature playing in the park, peeking out with an impish grin. Anselm is looking down and the strong light and shadows means we can’t see his face at all as he checks his landing. It works perfectly.

The final element that makes the picture is the body language. Anselm’s jump, full of energy, knees tucked in, you can tell he’s really trying to get as high as he can. His movement is reflected in his dad’s body language, clearly egging him on higher and higher as they share this wonderful moment together.

I love this shot, and, without doubt it will be one of my favourites of the year.

I also, of course, got lots of pictures where you can see the children’s faces and I couldn’t resist adding in a second image to this blog, this shot of Sophia snuggling with her ‘Froggy’ as we stopped for a cup of tea and a snack to warm up on such a cold morning.

I the look on her face, it’s so typical of childhood, snuggling with a favourite toy and smiling shyly at the new person who has come to play. I love both these images so much and so it’s a Just Two today in this sneak peek from my recent family photography session in South London.