Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Chelsea children portrait – Just One – Maddy


Today on the blog I’m sharing a single image from Maddy’s recent shoot in Chelsea, a picture that I love.

I’ve been photographing children and families for thirteen years now and over that time I’ve built up a huge wealth of experience. One of the best things about this is the ability to get into the right place at the right time, to pre-visualize an image and work towards achieving it.

Children are unpredictable and I never quite know what might happen on a photo shoot. But there are certain things that, in certain environments, I can be fairly sure might occur at some point and that will make a great picture. When presented with a pirate ship to climb on then looking through a porthole is one of these things.

I’m always on the look out for holes – portholes in pirate ships, hand-holes in giant cardboard box houses, peek-holes when playing hide and seek, anything that will result in a great image when a child suddenly released that you are one side and they the other, somewhere they can peek through to laugh and smile with a shared joke. There is something about the clean composition you get on an image like this combined with a great expression that really makes an image sing.

When I saw the pirate ship in the beautiful Chelsea garden square where we had based ourselves for our photo shoot I immediately noticed the portholes and thought to keep an eye out for a photo opportunity, I didn’t need to wait long. Marina was a riot, so full of energy and looking for fun things to do and it felt like only seconds before she was driving her pirate ship across the stormy seas.

I positioned myself for a good angle, moving round to get the image. I took one, it was almost there, I took another, moving slightly to the left and up so as to get more light into Marina’s eyes. Often the process of taking photographs is like this – pre-visualizing an image and then taking one, refining and taking again, making slight adjustments until everything comes together, light, angle, expression and composition.

Sometimes photographing children you get the chance to work an image to perfection, sometimes you grab one shot before they are off, on to the next thing and the moment is lost. It’s this excitement and challenge that makes it such a fun genre to work in and means that even after thirteen years I’m always excited about what challenges a new day will bring.

I’m so thrilled with this picture, I just love the expression and also that it will remind Marina of this square when she is older. I’m sure that there will be many summers spent in this pirate ship, playing with her little brother and it’s lovely to have captured this detail in her portrait.

I do hope you like it, today’s ‘Just One’ from our shoot in Chelsea. If you would like to arrange your own portrait session then do get in touch, I still have few sessions available before Christmas and I’d love to hear from you.

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