Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

How to take Great Photographs


I’m an avid reader – last time we moved house the removal team suggested that my husband should buy me a kindle as they loaded up yet another box from the bookshelves. I read all kinds of things from classic detective fiction to biographies, history and I also read a lot of photography books. It’s a pleasure to have a night in, curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine and a pile of books. I love to study other photographers work, to see how they have constructed their images and to learn from them. I look at all genres of photography and learn from them all.

And so I was thrilled to be contacted earlier this year and be asked to participate in a book ‘How to take Great Photographs’. The book is a collaboration from a number of photographers, many of whose books are on my shelves. I’m thrilled to have my work shown alongside such hero of mine as Paul Nicklen the wildlife photographer (whose TED talk I recommend you watch, it’s twenty minutes of wonder), incredible photojournalists such as Marcus Beasdales and Tom Stoddart and also alongside two landscape photographers Joe Cornish and David Ward who I am lucky enough to call friends and whose work, friendship and mentoring have played a huge part in my career. It’s wonderful to be part of such a great book and among such prestigious company.

My piece was about an image I took a couple of years ago now – Issy on the roundabout – which is one of my favourite pictures. I talk about the process of taking the image and the thoughts behind it and also offer advice for those photographing families themselves. I won’t tell you everything as you should buy the book, it’s a great read and would make the perfect stocking filler for a keen photographer. I’m looking forward to reading it cover to cover over Christmas.

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