Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Fine Art Children’s and Family Portrait Photography

The Secrets of Fine Art Family Photography

What Is Fine Art Family Photography?

For me, fine art family photography is where the pictures transcend the genre. Images move on from being a cheesy grin at the camera. They become something altogether more complex.

Composition and the skilled use of light lead to beautiful, emotive images that would be as at home on a museum wall as above a mantlepiece at home.

Fine art family photography is about more than the person in the picture. The images come to represent childhood as a concept as well as the individual child in the shot. They can be appreciated for their aesthetic and intellectual content, as well as for the love between the people photographed.

The very best family photography fits firmly into this category.

I look at the picture below of the two boys cycling through the woods one summer day and I immediately think of the family involved: of their holiday to Norfolk where we had our photoshoot and the fun those brothers have together.

But the picture is more than this.

I also think about my childhood and childhood in general. I think of long summer days, the hot sun and the dust kicked up by the tyres of our bikes. I think of picnics and paddling and endless days of fun. It’s a picture about childhood as well as about children and that, to me, is what fine art family photography is about.

It’s not about overly-staged images of grumpy-looking children set against dark backgrounds. It’s not about elaborate set-ups and lashings of Photoshop.

Great fine art family photography can be about your family being you, in your own settings. It simply takes that setting and elevates it to something special due to the photographer’s skill.

Why Choose a Fine Art Family Photographer?

When looking to choose a family photographer there are so many options available to you: studio photography or location work, very posed pictures or fun and relaxed images that show your personality. What will suit your family best is all down to personal taste.

I always strive to the best I can be which makes fine art photography such a compelling genre for me.

I love to exceed my clients’ expectations and push my work as far as it can go. I love the mystery of images that are a little bit ambiguous. I love silhouettes and graphic shapes.  I love images that make us pause to think, to remember.

Of course, it’s harder to take a really interesting image than one that is just a smile at the camera, but that’s what makes it fun.

If you choose a photographer who is passionately pushing the boundaries of their own work, constantly seeking and finding excellence, then you can be sure your pictures will be of an incredible quality and will look amazing on your walls as the years pass.


fine art family photography

Black and white fine art family photography

Fine art family photography doesn’t have to be in black and white, however, all mine is. I have always shot solely in monochrome and strongly believe it’s the perfect medium for family photography.

There’s a strong purpose behind my work, a strong belief in what I want to produce: real memories that last the length of time.

Photography is one of the few things that hugely gains in value as time goes by. The changing nature of colour processing means even the best colour photos end up looking like snapshots as the years pass.

Black and white images stay looking contemporary. They can be hung alongside images both old and new and look fantastic. This timeless element is, to me, fundamental for fine art family photography.

My aim is to produce pictures that your children will love as teenagers and will want to hang on their walls at university. It’s important for images to have staying power so they achieve their full purpose: memories for parents when the kids are little and memories for the kids when they’re grown up.

The fascinating thing about black and white photography is that you don’t take the colour out of the world, you just stop it being the most important thing.

Removing colour makes an image abstract, it makes it more powerful. Black and white draws you in suggesting mystery, wonder and love.

It cuts to the essence of an image. There are no distractions: a neon green t-shirt becomes a subtle grey, a distracting red toy blends into the background.

I still know that my first bike was blue. But, when I look at a picture of me on that bike, its colour isn’t what stands out. I think about how my dad taught me to ride it up and down the path by the bandstand in Greenwich Park. Dad would run holding the back of the bike until suddenly he stopped and I was riding solo. Then I realised I was on my own and, of course, promptly fell over.

Memories are saved within images. When I look at that image I think of how amazing my Dad was, and how much he must have loved me to have run with me so many times. If that isn’t what family photography is about, I’m not sure what is.

I don’t want people to look at my pictures in the future and say: “Do you remember that red dress?”, or worst of all: “Look at our fashion crimes!” I want people to look at the pictures and remember the love.

Exquisite Printing and Framing

Fine art photographs deserve fine art printing. That isn’t to say they can’t live digitally on your computer or be shared on Facebook or Instagram, but they deserve to be fully brought to life.

I spent time investigating different labs and experimenting with different papers before settling on my chosen option for clients. I now print all my pictures on stunning heavyweight fine art papers, truly beautiful objects in their own right.

Great printing and exquisite papers will make the very best of your images.  True blacks and bright whites but with extra detail, no blocking up of the shadows or burning of the highlights. These beautiful prints will stand the test of time.

They can be complemented by stunning handmade frames which, while expensive, are an investment that will last.

High-quality albums are extraordinary. Leather bound and with thick card pages to heat-seal prints upon, they allow you to enjoy your images in a storybook format, reliving your day and remembering all the fun you had together.

Fashions change, technology becomes obsolete, but memories captured and printed will last a lifetime.

And these pictures that we can take together will last even longer than that. As they’re handed down through the generations, the stories of the people in them will keep those memories alive forever.

My Qualifications as a Fine Art Family Photographer

I believe that photographers stand or fall on the quality of their work, on whether a picture you see on their website stands out from the crowd.

My work has been widely recognised by the photographic community and published both nationally and internationally in magazines including Photo Pro, Professional Imagemaker, Click in the US, and Cameraworld in China. You can see more on the press page of the website.

I’m also an ambassador for Canon, the only family photographer in Europe to hold this prestigious post.

Alongside this kind of experience and calibre, it’s all down to the pictures: do you like the images and the style of work?

I believe that photographing families is the most fun I can have. I’d love to meet you and yours to create images you can treasure for years to come.

Get in touch via https://www.helenbartlett.co.uk/contact/

Helen's photography is beautiful. She manages to really capture the essence of childhood and those precious family moments

- Lucy