Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

At the Edge of the Light


Creativity in Children’s Portrait Photography

I remember years ago having a discussion with my friend and fellow photographer Iain Bain about the edge of the light. He encouraged me to look closer and try to find situations where the light was changing and to work in that creative space. You can see this effect as people approach a window, walk into the shadow of a tree or stand in a doorway. The light levels change and there is a sweet spot of beautiful luminosity if we look for it.

Since then I’ve looked for it often and one of the situations where I particularly love finding it is at the ends of tunnels and passageways – which if you work in children’s playgrounds – come up more often than you would expect.

Of course, being older and larger than the average four-year-old I can’t fit in many of the wonderful tunnels but occasionally one appears that feels like a gift. This was the case on a recent family photo shoot, a tunnel I could crawl into and which enabled me to take this lovely shot which I’m pleased to share today.

As we explored the underground tunnels, I saw the possibility of this spot on the way out and there was, to my delight, a convenient branch to sit on. I suggested that the children stopped there and then left them to it for a bit. A discussion soon took place, I think possibly on the subject of the fact it was nearly lunchtime, and as the children reached out to hold hands smiling at each other I took this shot. I love it.

Thomas looks up at his big sister and she smiles down at him. They are such an amazing pair, a joy to be around and a delight to photograph. I love how the light just skims across his face, illuminating his profile and lighting his eye. We can see Stella’s smile as she looks back at him too, a moment of friendship, love, and tenderness between them.

I hope you like it as much as I do, today’s Just One, a portrait on the edge of the light.