Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family Portrait Photography in Potters Bar


Bright Sunlight for a Creative Portrait Photograph in Potters Bar

This summer has seen a lot of family portrait photography in Potters Bar in Hertfordshire. I find it interesting how the geography of my family photo shoots goes in phases, one month I might be in West London constantly, another, like July, heading up the trainline to photograph children and families in their beautiful homes in Potters Bar.

This session, my second with the family, was brilliant fun. I always love seeing people again, finding out what has changed and what has stayed the same (often it’s those cheeky grins that span the passing of years). We spent such a lovely morning together, exploring the beautiful gardens, climbing trees, swinging on the best swing I’ve seen in ages, skateboarding, football, water fights. The list goes on. As I only do one shoot in a day, I have plenty of time to incorporate so many different activities into my family photography sessions and doing lots of different things keeps it interesting for the children and provides wonderful variety to the finished set of pictures.

It’s been really hard to choose a Just One from this family photo shoot in Potters Bar as there are so many wonderful images but this one stands out a mile. We had walked through the most beautiful over grown field (I was so pleased to hear that they hadn’t been able to arrange to have it mowed until the day after the photo shoot – long grass is fantastic for pictures) and there was a fallen tree at the bottom of the hill. I knew immediately it would be a good spot to stop for a while and take some pictures. We did some family shots – fallen trees always work so well for groups as they provide something to sit on that is visually beautiful as well as being a comfortable place to relax and chat.

Then the boys had a climb and I saw the possibilities available to me. It was a very bright sunny day and there was no shade where we were. Normally I like to backlight in this situation but, to get any kind of angle where I could see faces, I knew this wasn’t an option. If only the tree had fallen with my pictures in mind, but it was where it was so I worked with it. Often, I find in that in these situations; being pushed out of my comfort zone and having to think with the situation presented to me, I produce some of my best work.

I decided to make the harsh bright sunlight an integral element of the image. I realised that exposing for the highlights on Zak face would bring the tones down giving me an almost silhouette-like feel and the looming clouds in the background would add to the power of the image – its been a summer for looming clouds in the background, it always seems to feel as if rain is only a moment as the weather is so changeable.

I found my composition within the shapes of the tree branches and then just asked Zak to turn to face up the field for a moment and he naturally struck this pose. Holding onto the branch for balance means that his arms seem part of the tree itself, carrying on the shape through the bended elbow and to his other hand resting casually on his hip.

The light illuminates his face just enough so we can see his features and his expression as he looks out to see what the day will bring.

I’m thrilled with this family portrait photograph in Potters Bar  and I hope you will like it as much as I do. To see more of my work with teenagers and older children then do take a further look around the website. If you would like to book your own session then get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.