Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Just One – children’s portrait photography in Islington


Today’s ‘Just One’ preview is from a recent shoot in Islington, a really fun family photography session that took place on a lovely sunny Saturday morning at home and then out and about on Hampstead Heath, one of my favourite locations in London. This ‘Just One’ shot is a moment captured at the family’s home, in those early minutes of the shoot where I aim to take a few relaxed portraits of the children together before the games and playing really begin. On this session – as on many of the very best family portrait sessions – the chaos broke loose pretty much immediately, and what fun we had together.

I knew from the moment I arrived and saw the massive, mischievous grins on the children’s faces that I was in for an absolute treat. I love children full of giggles, with bags of personality and ideas all of their own. They are so much fun to photograph and the challenges of bringing an element of order to the chaos – and take a really interesting, well thought through and composed portrait of a child who is bouncing off the walls with excitement – is one of the things I love most about my job. I thrive on the energy.

I love how a shot like this can occur, completely naturally as the children run around and play – one minute here, one minute there. Sitting still for a fraction of a second and then they’re up and away – hiding, laughing, jumping, chatting. My job is to anticipate and manoeuvre myself so that the game works with the available light, I’m always on the move to try and take pictures before the children move on to something else. To be able to respond quickly to the children, I need to anticipate, adapt and work quickly and all these elements are key to my style of photography.

It is moments like these where I hope I capture something more than a visual likeness. I hope that, in a fraction of a second, I have caught the personality of a child in a photograph that is really special – the way that they look, they laugh, and they interact. The relationship between the siblings and the manner in which they complement each other within the happy family unit. I hope I have, in this image, caught that essence of these children, at this time; the rebellion tempered with good humour, the gleeful glance as the shared joke becomes the picture I take. It’s a collaboration between the children and I as we work with their imagination and enthusiasm to result in a picture that is so much more interesting that the picture on the sofa that I had planned to begin with. It’s picture that really shows the children how they are – happy to pose but at a place of their choosing, in this case under the coffee table!

I love it, today’s ‘Just One’ preview image from my recent family and children’s photography session in Islington – I do hope you enjoy it, and look forward to sharing some more photos from our fun-packed morning together soon.

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