Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Just One – baby portrait photography in Notting Hill, London


Sometimes I have a picture in mind – for years, sometimes. I don’t know where the idea came from – possibly a picture I saw years ago, probably a studio shot with beautiful rim lighting, and I’ve kept the concept in the back of my mind waiting for the opportunity to use that knowledge, that idea, to take a photograph that is very much my own.

This portrait is an image like that. I’ve been experimenting for a while with the idea of rim lighting – it’s easy to do in a studio with a well-placed flash, but harder in a home environment using only the available light from a window. I saw the potential for this portrait as I was photographing K in his bedroom; I had been taking some close-up portrait shots and then, moving round to the side, I suddenly realised what I had in front of me – something really very special.

The light was incredibly soft from the big bedroom window, but it wrapped around K’s face just illuminating his eye and his cheek. I exposed the image for the light areas, planning to bring the rest of his face into shadow and produce this striking portrait. Sometimes the joy of photography is seeing the potential for an image in a scene – finding something unexpected and working with it to produce a really lovely special image. Photographs like this come from the eyes of the mind – it isn’t what you see in front of you at the time, but seeing the potential and then utilising photographic techniques to bring out the elements that I want in the image, getting it absolutely spot on in camera.

Moments like this make me realise how much my experience of photographing families for eleven years matters, and how the skills and techniques I have learnt over the years allow me to take pictures that are beyond the norm and that I am proud of. They make me excited to think what is yet to come, as I learn new skills and hone my technique into the future. I like to think the best is yet to come and I look forward to taking different images of K as he grows up that will reflect that.

In the meantime, I love this image – today’s ‘Just One’, a portrait photograph I am incredibly proud of and so pleased to share.

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